The Williams sister’s Oscar buzzing biopic King Richard brought to light some of the intimate details behind their incredible life story including the tennis stars’ close relationship with their elder sister, Yetunde Price, who was tragically murdered in 2003.
Actress Mikayla LaShae took on the role of the straight-A college-bound student who ultimately graduated as the valedictorian of her class and was close to both Venus and Serena despite them only being half-sisters. Price was the daughter of the Wimbledon champ’s mother, Oracene Price, from a previous relationship with Yusef Rasheed.
Yetunde was tragically shot and killed on Sept. 14, 2003, in Compton by a Southside Crips gang member named Robert Edward Maxfield. The 31-year-old hair salon owner was traveling in an SUV with her boyfriend behind the wheel when Maxfield opened fire into the vehicle. According to PEOPLE, the incident occurred as the couple drove down East Greenleaf Boulevard near a suspected drug house. Price was fatally shot in the back of the head during the shootout, just a few miles away from the same playground where Venus and Serena began playing tennis. The mother of three was a registered nurse and also helped to coordinate her sister’s finances and travel arrangements prior to her untimely passing.
During an interview with the LA Times in 2003, Rolland Wormley, Price’s boyfriend at the time, recalled the harrowing moment Yetunde was shot.
“I’m trying to get through this. I’m trying to get away, I’m trying to get her to safety. Once I get to Long Beach Boulevard, I see the back window is shattered. I look to the right and said, ‘Baby, are you all right?’ I look at [Price] and there was blood everywhere,” he said of the frightening experience. Wormley was not hit the night of the incident.
Maxwell was sentenced in April 2006 to 15 years in prison but was later paroled in March of 2018. Serena previously revealed that she found out about the former gang member’s release on Instagram minutes before her Roger’s Cup Tournament match against Johanna Konta.
“I couldn’t shake it out of my mind,” she said following her huge loss to Konta after the game. “It was hard because all I think about is her kids and what they meant to me. And how much I love them.”
However, that wasn’t the first time that Serena had expressed grief about Yetunde. In 2007, the 23-time Grand Slam champion shared just how close she and her sister were, noting that the topic was “still hard” for her to talk about.
“Yetunde and I were so close; she changed my diapers. But I finally came to an acceptance of things,” she added.
Price’s siblings opened the Yetunde Price Resource Center in Compton in late 2016 to help heal victims of trauma and violence.
“We definitely wanted to honor our sister’s memory because she was a great sister, she was our oldest sister and obviously she meant a lot to us,” Serena said in a statement. “And it meant a lot to us, to myself and to Venus and my other sisters as well, Isha and Lyndrea, that we’ve been wanting to do something for years in memory of her, especially the way it happened, a violent crime.”
The Williams sisters share two other half-siblings, Isha and Lyndrea, from their mother’s side in addition to two more half-sisters on their dad’s side “as Richard already had two daughters from his first marriage,” HITC notes.