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Catching up with Rick Macci: Working with Serena and Venus Williams and evolving his coaching style
Fresh off the release of "King Richard," he discussed the importance of adapting and how to become a better coach.
Published Dec 02, 2021
It has been almost 30 years since Rick Macci coached Serena and Venus Williams to greatness. Yet the 66-year-old is still just as busy now as he was in the 1990's training the sisters. When I sat down with Macci, he seemed relaxed and filled with good spirits despite his heavy work schedule.
"I've been always amazingly busy, but the last three weeks, especially after the premiere and the movie, it's just out of control and I'm also on the court 50 hours a week," Macci told Baseline with a smile on his face. "So you can imagine it's been a ride, but it's all good. I love it."
Since working with the iconic sisters, Macci has coached world champions (Andy Roddick and Maria Sharapova just to name two), appeared on numerous television programs, continued to be involved with the Rick Macci International Tennis Academy — which was founded in 1985 — and inducted into the USPTA Professionals Hall of Fame, the youngest ever to be included.
So, what's the legendary coach been up to lately? Macci wasted no time in bringing up his tennis academy.
"The Rick Macci Tennis Academy is pretty much the crown jewel of Palm Beach County...the place looks like Disneyland and Candyland. It's amazing. We got prize money tournaments, there are many pros, people can rent a court for $5...the place is rocking and rolling every day," he said.
Despite his incredible success and strong work ethic for decades, Macci has never wavered in his love for the sport and coaching.
"I'm actually doing the exact same thing as I've done since 1985...I teach 4-year-olds, I teach adults, I teach the best juniors. There's about 30 girls on the tour [and] I work with a handful of guys on the tour," he said. "I still love what I do. I have the passion. I get up every morning at 3:30 and still going strong. So I still love it as much now as I did back then."
While Macci's daily routine has stayed the same for decades, his coaching style has not. Over the years, the way tennis is played has changed dramatically. From players using lighter and stronger racquets, to new nutrition and recovery technology, to the serve and volley becoming less popular—coaches have to adapt or be left behind.
Adaptation and becoming a better coach has never been a problem, according to Macci.
"The coaches have to adapt to the players, the style, the equipment. The athletes are bigger and stronger. The whole landscape has changed...any coach who hasn't changed, even bio-mechanically, gets left behind.
"For example, the way I teach the ATP forehand...we have kind of revolutionized really what the guys on the tour do...and I have pretty much been the worldwide leader in this area. Everything has changed and any parent, coach, or teacher who isn't evolving every single day, they're really doing a disservice to the general public, teaching the game of tennis."
After decades of a colorfully decorated coaching career and being inducted into the USPTA Hall of Fame, Macci summed it all up with just five words that describe it best: "Love, passion, consistency, dedication and persistence." Beaming with positivity and excitement to get back on the court, it's inspiring to see the result of these five words come to life through Macci. And, although he's done so much—his one-of-a-kind electric energy says he's just getting started.