Yetunde, the eldest of three daughters from Oracene’s first marriage and a mother of three herself, was fatally shot in Compton in 2003 when she was 31. Venus and Serena opened the Yetunde Price Resource Center, a safe haven for at-risk youth and victims of trauma in Compton, in 2016, and the athletes have shared that seeing her brought to life by Mikayla in King Richard was a very emotional experience.
“Oh, I think I cried the whole time,” Serena said on Jada Pinkett Smith‘s Red Table Talk, appearing with Venus and their mother. “Whenever she came on film, I just—personally, I just started, like—I mean, even still.”
Recalled Venus, “She knew how to have fun. She was original Team V. Before there was a Team V, she was Team V.”
In July 2018, Serena heard that Yetunde’s killer, Robert Edward Maxfield, was being released on parole after serving 12 years of a 15-year sentence for voluntary manslaughter. Moments later, she suffered a 6-1, 6-0 defeat in the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic.
“I couldn’t shake it out of my mind,” she told TIME about the obvious effect the news had on her game. Serena further explained, “No matter what, my sister is not coming back for good behavior. It’s unfair that she’ll never have an opportunity to hug me. But also…the Bible talks about forgiveness. I’m not there yet. I would like to practice what I preach, and teach [my daughter] Olympia that as well. I want to forgive. I have to get there. I’ll be there.”
Moreover, “it was hard because all I think about is her kids, and what they meant to me. And how much I love them.”