Venus Ebony Starr Williams is an American tennis star with 22 Grand Slam titles (7 Singles, 13 Doubles, 2 Mixed Doubles) and 4 Olympic Gold Medals and is known as one of the best players of her generation. She is the elder sister of Serena Williams who holds 33 Grand Slam titles to her name. Williams was born on June 17, 1980 to Richard Williams and Oracene Price in Lynwood, California. Richard Williams was a farmer in Louisiana who was an avid tennis fan and wanted to see his daughters succeed as professional tennis players. He bought instructional tapes and books to learn tennis, so him and his wife could teach their daughters how to play. The sisters first started training at the run down tennis courts near their house and then attended Rick Macci’s tennis academy. Later, Richard took over the girls’ coaching entirely.
Venus started competing in junior tennis tournaments where she held a 63-0 win-lose record on the United States Tennis Association junior tour. She was ranked the No. 1 player in the under 12 category but Richard pulled her out of competitions so she could focus on her studies and not feel the pressure of having to win. Venus turned pro on October 31, 1994, at the age of fourteen due to the then relaxed rules of the WTA allowing younger girls to turn pro. However, she participated in limited competitions and focused on her school work side by side. As she steadily started participating in more tournaments, her ranking rose to the top 100 in the world for the first time in April 1997, and she finished the year ranked World No. 22. The sisters first played each other professionally in the second round of the Australian Open in 1998; Venus won the encounter but lost in the quarterfinals to then World No. 3 Lindsay Davenport. A few weeks later, she won the first singles title of her career – the IGA Tennis Classic in Oklahoma City in which she defeated Davenport in the semifinal and Joannette Kruger in the final.
Venus’s first singles Grand Slam victory came in Wimbledon 2000, where she defeated World No. 1 Martina Hingis in the quarterfinals, Serena in the semifinals, and defending champion Lindsay Davenport in the final. She also won the U.S. Open singles title that year, defeating Hingis in the semifinals and Davenport in the final. She won the ladies singles event at the Sydney 2000 Olympics that year, as well as the women’s doubles title with Serena to clinch 2 Olympic gold medals. She successfully defended her Wimbledon and U.S. Open titles the following year, making her only the sixth woman in history to win the singles titles at both Wimbledon and U.S. Open in consecutive years. At the U.S. Open final, she defeated Serena in a fierce contest; this was the first time in the Open Era that two sisters had faced each other in a Grand Slam final.
Her ranking rose to World No. 1 for the first time on February 25, 2002 which made her the first African American woman to hold the top ranking. That year at Wimbledon, she reached her third consecutive Wimbledon final, facing her sister for a second time in the final. Serena was victorious this time, and also snatched the World No. 1 rank with this victory. The sisters won the doubles championship that year as well. Between 2003 to 2006, Venus suffered several losses and injuries, but won her third Wimbledon in 2005 by defeating Maria Sharapova in the final. She made a comeback, claiming her fourth and fifth Wimbledon titles in 2007 (defeating Maria Sharapova) and 2008 (defeating Serena). This made her one of only four women in the open era to have won at least five Wimbledon singles titles.
Venus Williams is considered of the all time tennis greats, but her life off the court is just as active. She has her own clothing line called “EleVen” and is a talented artist and interior designer. She also has her own interior design company and promotes gender equality. She currently lives in Palm Beach, Florida with her sister Serena and their two dogs.