It’s U.S. Open tennis time and the bold and gutsy play of Venus Williams is once again on display. After 18 years on the women’s tennis circuit and at 37 years old she is currently ranked an impressive 9th in the world. Venus was expected to do well here and she has. Her dramatic quarter-final victory Tuesday night over Petra Kvitova (6-3,3-7,7-6) was a testament to her skill, drive, and mental stamina. It was a battle to the very end with both players making incredible shots and pushing each other to the limit.
Most people know about Venus’ amazing tennis career (5 Wimbledon wins, 2 U.S. Opens), but many don’t know about her remarkable life outside of tennis. She has conducted herself differently from most tennis champions who focus the large majority of their time and energy on playing tennis. And especially after Venus developed an autoimmune disease that saps her energy, you would understand if she did the same. But alongside her tennis career, she has lived a second life of passion and ambition.
At the tender age of twenty-five, when she could have sat on her laurels after winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open twice, she showed incredible guts in taking on the issue of equal pay for women in Grand Slam tournaments. With the encouragement of her mentor, former champion and women’s activist Billie Jean King, Venus was successful in getting the prize money won by women at Wimbledon increased to the same amount as the men. Not too shabby for a twenty-five year old.
While a tennis champion, Venus also started not one but two companies. In the late 1990s she designed her own line of tennis and athletic wear, now called EleVen by Venus, and she also is the owner of V-Starr Interiors—an interior design firm that caters to hotels and luxury homes. Her clothing line has had some ups and downs, but she recently reorganized the company and has had encouraging success in the last two years. And where did she learn about business? Well, in her spare time in between grand slam events and running her companies she went to college!
In 2015, Venus amazingly completed a Bachelor of Science Degree in Business Administration. C’mon Venus is there anything you can’t do? And just to keep it interesting, she is in the process of completing a Master’s Degree in Interior Design. As with her tennis she is always reaching for more.
The integrity and dedication she has shown in her tennis career would be enough to make her a worthy role model for girls and women, but when you add feminist advocate, entrepreneur, and college graduate, her superstar status is confirmed. Thank you Venus for showing us all we can be.