Sisters and Champions: The True Story of Venus and Serena Williams

Sisters and Champions: The True Story of Venus and Serena Williams



“This one’s a winner.” —Chicago Tribune

A 2019 ILA Teacher’s Choices Reading List Selection!

An inspiring picture book sports biography about two of the greatest female tennis players of all-time! Venus and Serena Williams: Best friends. Sisters. Champions.

Everyone knows the names Venus & Serena Williams. They’ve become synonymous with championships, hard work, and with shaking up the tennis world. This inspirational true story, written by award-winning sports journalist, Howard Bryant, and brought to beautiful life by Coretta Scott Kind Award and Honor winner, Floyd Cooper, details the sisters’ journey from a barely-there tennis court in Compton, CA, to Olympic gold medals and becoming the #1 ranked women in the sport of tennis. Here is a worthy ode to Venus and Serena Williams, the incredible sister duo who will go down in history as two of the greatest athletes of all time.

“Alive with warmth and movement, these luminous, soft-edged scenes portray the sisters gradually growing into strong, capable women. A handsome sports biography.” —Booklist

“There is a sharp focus in the book on the two sisters’ special bond and friendship; it lies at the heart of this biography, and the women’s stories are remarkable. It’s high time they had their own picture book tribute.”—Kirkus


ISBN - 13



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Reading Age

About the Author

Howard Bryant is the author of Shut Out: A Story of Race and Baseball in Boston, which was a finalist for the Society for American Baseball Research’s 2003 Seymour Medal, and Juicing the Game: Drugs, Power, and the Fight for the Soul of Major League Baseball. He is a senior writer for and ESPN the Magazine; appears regularly on ESPN’s The Sports Reporters, ESPN First Take, and Outside the Lines; and serves as sports correspondent for NPR’s Weekend Edition Saturday. He lives in western Massachusetts.


When Floyd Cooper discovered children’s book illustrating, he found a way to complement his career in advertising. An apprentice of Mark English, Mr. Cooper began his freelance career while still a student at the University of Oklahoma. After graduating, he made his way to Missouri, where he secured a position at a greeting card company. Although Mr. Cooper was established in his position there, he felt somewhat stifled. He lacked the freedom and opportunity for spontaneity that he longed for as an artist and the joy that could be found in doing something that he loved. Determined to break out of the mundane cycle he found himself in, Mr. Cooper relocated to the East Coast in 1984 to pursue his career further. It was there that he discovered the world of children’s book illustrating and was amazed by the opportunities for creativity it afforded. Mr. Cooper was energized. The first book he illustrated, Grandpa’s Face, captivated reviewers. Publishers Weekly said of newcomer Floyd Cooper’s work, “Cooper, in his first picture book, creates family scenes of extraordinary illumination. He reinforces in the pictures the feelings of warmth and affection that exist between generations.”

Editorial Reviews

“Author Bryant brings his considerable sportswriting experience to bear as he energetically shares one of sports’ truly remarkable stories with young readers. Cooper’s mixed-media paintings done with his reductive technique provide a strong sense of the Williams sisters’ image while serving as a forceful compliment….An effective narrative and visual way to share a piece of sports history.”
—Kirkus Reviews


“We all know the ending, but Bryant, a senior writer for, makes the story new again with passion, clarity and a gift for good old-fashioned storytelling. He finds the universal in a very specific sport and tells a tale that’s rich with detail. The illustrations, faintly grainy like old photos, capture the nostalgia of promising beginnings and the intensity of world-class competition. This one’s a winner.” 
—Chicago Tribune


Bryant opens his story of Venus and Serena Williams with a focus on the sisters’ distinctive personalities and close early relationship, as well as on their father, Richard Williams, whose insistence that his daughters would become tennis champions was initially met with derision (“They laughed because Venus and Serena were black, and black people, they said, weren’t supposed to play tennis”). Cooper creates dynamic, naturalistic paintings of the sisters as children, adolescents, and adults on the court and off, setting them against grainy spreads. Bryant details their successes and personal setbacks, and their resilience shines through to the story’s finale, which sees the champions holding trophies and embracing: “Family is forever.” Readers will grasp the significance of Venus and Serena’s accomplishments as record-breaking athletes and as individuals who struck down societal barriers to their success. Ages 4–8. (May)

Publishers Weekly

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