STREAMING REVIEW Serena doccie shows the tennis star as never before

2019-04-14 00:06

The documentary Serena shows exclusive behind the scene footage of one of the greatest tennis players of all time.  

Serena (2016)
Available on Cell C Black

3 and a half stars out of 5

Serena Williams is one of the greatest tennis players of all time. She was raised in the harsh hood of Compton in California in the US and started out as a professional in 1995.

In the 2016 documentary, Serena, we join this titan of tennis at the age of 33 in the 2015/16 season. She has just won the Australian open and is chasing the record for the most grand slam championships won, held then by the iconic Steffi Graf.

It provides a rare look into her life behind the scenes and how she goes about preparing for matches. She still lives with her sister whom we don’t see much of in the presentation. What we do see is how Serena comes to life anywhere near a court. She seems almost playful and sweet in her personal life; on the court, however, she’s a force to be reckoned with.

In one scene, an opponent waves her hand at Serena disrespectfully and Serena responds not by throwing a tantrum, but by funnelling her rage to fuel her swing, which she says is something most players can’t do. They buckle under the added weight of sudden rage and lose focus on the game.

While the documentary is well filmed, I didn’t enjoy the NBC and Euro Sports watermarks on the archive footage. Perhaps I’m nitpicking. Drama is inserted through Serena’s recounting moments of difficulty in the media. The film does well to avoid the reality TV template that this genre crashes into at times. The artful insertion of her voice as narration over moments during a game really drives home her state of mind – that of a winner.

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April 5 2020