Tennis stars had been expected at Toronto preem

Just hours after it was reported that Venus and Serena Williams would not attend the world premiere of “Venus and Serena” because they were unhappy with the documentary about their lives, the tennis stars communicated to the filmmakers that they still support the project.

The Williams sisters were in fact absent from the Tuesday night Toronto Film Fest premiere, but co-director Michelle Major said they communicated via a member of their support team that they’re OK with how it turned out.

The year-long shoot wrapped December 2011, and the sisters had initially told Major and co-director Maiken Baird, both veteran broadcast journos, that they would attend the preem. But on Sunday and Monday, the filmmakers received word, via texts and emails from the support team, that neither sister would attend.

“We can’t speculate on the reasons they changed their minds,” said Major, adding that sisters did not watch the film until after the U.S. Open, where Serena Williams won her fourth U.S. Open singles title a few days ago.

“It may have something to do with the fact that they saw the final project too close to the festival,” Major said. “This is the first time anything like this has been done about them, so I think it’s a matter of processing. There’s a lot to take in” from what Major described as “an even-handed portrayal of their life.”

Pic follows the 2011 tennis season during which both sisters battled life and career-threathening health problems, personal tragedy and media controversy. Major and Baird, who gained unprecedented access to the sister’s private lives, filmed the sisters separately and together.

Cinetic is selling the film in Toronto.

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