SERENA Williams’ half-sister – part of her father’s ‘secret first family’ ignored by the movie makers of King Richard – says she was suicidal and suffered with a crippling eating disorder after he abandoned her.
Richard Williams, 79, walked out on daughter Sabrina and her siblings when she was only eight years old, telling her he was going to buy her a bicycle before never returning to the family home.
He went on to start a new family with Serena and sister Venus’s mother, his ex-wife Oracene Price, and became obsessed with his daughters becoming successful tennis stars.
Sabrina, who previously slammed the new film about her father’s life, in which he’s portrayed by actor Will Smith, said she has had debilitating problems for decades since he left.
In an exclusive interview with The Sun, she said: “I want to share my story, I can get the message out there about mental health.
“For me, trying to kill myself or having suicidal thoughts when I was younger, I’m not crazy, I’m healthy.
“From this article, I want people to know whether they have bipolar, depression, schizophrenia, anorexia, bulimia, gambling, whatever, that you’re not alone, you’re gonna be okay, just reach out for help.
“The strongest person is the person who can identify that weakness. The weakest person is not the person who can identify their strengths.
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“Mental health is something I really struggled with, as I was growing up, from ten years old.
“I just felt like I couldn’t relate to any of the other kids because they had a mom and a dad, and at that time, you didn’t see many parents who were divorced.
“I was also struggling growing up in areas that were mostly not from my racial background.”
In Richard’s absence, Sabrina’s mom Betty had to look after six kids, including one from a previous relationship, who went from “having food to no food,” which his daughter says led to an eating disorder.
“When I got towards 14, I really started to struggle with my mental health,” she revealed to The Sun.
“I found myself hoarding food. We had gone from having food to not having food, it was really scarce,” adding they mostly lived on beans and rice.
“I remember many times where my mom always made sure there was food on the table, but I could tell the times maybe it wasn’t going to be so much.
“I would hoard food, like if my mom would buy Ding Dong chocolate cakes, I was sneaking into the cabinet at night after everybody was asleep, and taking three or four out of the packet.
“Or if there was some leftover chicken or beans and rice, I would take a small bowl and put it under my bed. I was scared of being hungry, and food became my thing to stuff my emotions with. I was really not wanting to recognise my feelings.”
Sabrina, now 57, admitted she had a tumultuous relationship with her mom and would often turn on her before she died of cancer in 1988, even making excuses for her dad’s absence and blaming her.
FAMILY TORN APART
She admits it took her decades to realize it wasn’t her mom’s fault, and her dad was never going to be in her life.
Richard married Sabrina’s late mom Betty Johnson in Los Angeles in the early 1960s.
They had four other children – Richard III, 56, Ronner, 55, Reluss, 54, and Reneeka, 49.
Sabrina accidentally bumped into Richard when he was with her tennis half-siblings at Knott’s Berry Farm theme park in California in the late nineties – the only time she’s met Serena or Venus.
He promised to keep in touch, but it never materialized, and the number he gave was out of order, so Sabrina then returned to the comfort blanket of bad eating habits.
The Sun has reached out to Richard’s lawyer for comment.
As reported, the former tennis coach is now barely able to talk and is being cared for by family after suffering two strokes.
According to court documents amid his divorce from his third wife Lakeisha Graham, his doctor said he had dementia and irreparable brain damage.
Sabrina has come to terms with the fact she will never see him again, and said she would not attend his funeral.
She told The Sun: “I guess I knew in my heart my dad was the cause of this [pain], but I didn’t blame my dad, I blamed my mom, I put the real reason to one side and just blamed my mom for everything.
DAUGHTER BLAMED MOM
“There were times I didn’t even talk to her until I came to the conclusion it wasn’t my mom who put us in this situation – it was my dad.
“It changed when I saw my dad at Knott’s Berry Farm, it hit me then. But again, I just stuffed those feelings down and I remember that day when I did see him, I just went and ate three funnel cakes, got a sugar high and then went to sleep, literally on a park bench.
“In my mind, he was a good dad, my mom was just holding us back from seeing him. Or maybe my mom did something to make him change his number. I was always finding a reason to blame her.
“I thought my dad wanted to see me, that he had been looking for me, and he was still going out for that proverbial bike.
“That’s how silly it was and how deluded I was.”
Sabrina previously blasted the new movie, which has no mention of her father’s first family, and she told The Sun actor Will Smith should be ashamed of himself for starring in the film.
She thinks the title of the movie is “completely over the top”.
“He thinks he’s the king of the world, but no one that’s ever been around him thinks he’s King Richard,” she laughed. “It is an outrageous title, but to truth be told, it fits him.
“He’s not the king of the world. If you look at him psychologically, it’s something he’s never achieved apart from in his head – he’s lived only through two of his daughters forsaking all his other children.
“Truth be told, those girls rose to the top while his other children had to suffer because of the choices my dad made, we were raised in poverty after he left.”