Venus Williams is featured in The New York Times Magazine, in a wonderfully written story entitled: “Did Venus Williams ever get her due? How the first Williams sister changed the course of women’s tennis.” The lengthy piece written by Elizabeth Weil covers the American’s current tennis career that is still going pretty strong, 25 years after her pro debut, as well as her beginnings that actually date back to the time before she was even born, when her father Richard wrote a 78-page playbook to make his children tennis champions.
Venus Williams was never just a player. Her job was never simply to swing a racquet and win sets, though that was required. Her job was to change the game.
Today’s young female athletes, including African-American women, know that they can reach the WTA top, as Venus Williams paved the way.
To quote the magazine article:
You could hear direct echoes of Venus in female athletes all year long. In Megan Rapinoe, the soccer star who was so sure that she was going to win the World Cup that she turned down an invitation to celebrate at the White House before the final game. In Naomi Osaka, who just before the start of the French Open said, “I always thought I would be No.1 and win a Grand Slam when I was 18.” In Coco Gauff, who at age 15 refused to bow her head and tell reporters that she’d met her goal once she’d beaten her idol, Venus. Because, as a true Venus protégée, she had not. “I said this before: I want to be the greatest,” Gauff told reporters after her victory in the first round at Wimbledon. “My dad told me that I could do this when I was 8.”
This is the current story of women in sports. But Venus was first.
We all know that Serena Williams is already a tennis legend, with uncountable career achievements that include 23 singles major titles, 319 weeks at No.1 ranking and estimated net worth of $225 million that makes her the only athlete on Forbes’ list of America’s Richest Self-Made Women, but her one year older sister came first, as the author of The New York Times Magazine article points out:
There was never any Serena without Venus. There was never any second stage without the first. Venus was the mightiest female player anyone had ever seen. Serena rode her power through the atmosphere. Then she exploded, becoming propulsively excellent, a woman who knew how to harness energies that, in less masterful hands, burn out of control.
The former world No.1 and seven-time Grand Slam singles champion “with limbs that span time zones” is still playing tennis at the age of 39, working through her Sjogren’s syndrome that causes fatigue and joint pain. On top of that, the tennis icon runs V Starr Interiors (one of Venus’ middle names is Starr), the interior-design company established in 2002, and active wear label EleVen that she always wears on the court.