Alphonse Williams never met his famous aunties and grandfather Richard because of a bitter family rift, which has been raging for decades.
His mother Sabrina, 57, is the sporting duo’s half-sister from Richard’s first marriage. She has been estranged from her father for years.
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Richard, who turned 80 on Valentine’s day and who is the subject of the Oscar-nominated film King Richard, went on to marry Serena and Venus’ mother Oracene and make it his number one priority for his daughters to become tennis pros.
However, Sabrina’s earlier life was blighted with mental health struggles.
Now tragically her youngest of two boys took his own life after battling his own demons, which included a recent diagnosis of Peyronie’s disease, which causes the curvature of the penis.
A third of sufferers are also hit with “serious depression”.
“When my son attempted his life two and a half years ago, I asked God, save his life and give me a little bit more time, please.
“And God answered my prayers. He did. He gave me two and a half years more than I expected,” said Sabrina from her Las Vegas home, which she shared with Alphonse and his elder brother Elijah, 23.
‘He was crying last Monday, hysterical crying’ – Sabrina Williams
“I knew he was on loan and God called in that loan.”
Sabrina only knew the devastating impact Peyronie’s disease can have on mental health after Alphonse’s passing and reading about the condition online. He also had bipolar disorder.
“He was crying last Monday, hysterical crying. The week before, the doctor confirmed what he already knew, that he had Peyronie’s,” Sabrina said.
“He had started back at high school, he was going into his fourth semester of computer engineering and was regularly seeing a counsellor.
“But this hit him so hard. He was just about to turn 22, he felt like his life was ending. On Monday night, he said, ‘This is not going to be a life I want to live’.
“Then on Wednesday, he was talking to his dad, my ex-husband, and said: ‘I’m going to kill myself.’
“On Thursday night, I thought he was studying and, at nine o’clock, I knocked on his bedroom door and he didn’t answer.
“At the back of my mind, I said, ‘Maybe…’, but then told myself, ‘No, Sabrina, you can’t think like that’. I just figured he fell asleep.
‘He was so cold’ – Sabrina Williams
“At four in the morning, I got up, the light was still on. I said, ‘Okay, he’s studying’, but really, in my mind, I knew he was gone. I just didn’t want to face it.
“At 7.30, I texted, he didn’t answer, I immediately opened the door to his room and he had taken his life that night. He was so cold, he was very rigid, I tried doing CPR.
“When I found him, he looked beautiful, he’s a handsome boy… He just never woke up.
“He had no idea that this thing was making him more depressed. When he got the news, he just couldn’t handle it, how many of us could have handled it at that age?
“I had my own mental health issues, but it wasn’t until my late 30s that it was sorted out, when I was quitting jobs and jeopardising myself, screwing up, I was just so suicidal.”
Sabrina claims her father Richard never showed interest in Alphonse and she won’t waste energy on trying to connect with him or his daughters.
“As far as my other sisters, Serena and Venus, my dad, since my son passed away, they’re dead to me,” she said.
The grieving mum now wants to make it her mission to help others.
“If I can touch one life, and that one person touches another life, it’s a ripple effect, it can be a beautiful thing.”
If you need help in a crisis, call Lifeline on 13 11 14. For further information about depression contact beyondblue on 1300224636 or talk to your GP, local health professional or someone you trust.