Last updated on February 27th, 2022
Venus Williams is an American professional tennis player and the sister of Serena Williams. Known for her superb athleticism and strength, she redefined tennis. When she was a kid, she wanted to be an astronaut. She continued playing the sport while facing injuries and cemented her name in tennis books. With these facts about Venus Williams that cover her childhood, family, tennis career, challenges, rivalries, personal life, and business pursuits, let us learn more about her.
Childhood and Family
1. Former world No.1 player and all-time great Venus Ebony Starr Williams was born on June 17, 1980 in Lynwood, California. She grew up in the tough neighborhood of Compton, south of downtown LA.
2. Her father, Richard Williams, decided that his future daughters would become professional players after watching Virginia Ruzici play tennis on television and win $20,000 in prize money during a 1978 tournament.
3. In order to learn about tennis, Richard Williams took lessons from a man known only as “Old Whisky”.
4. “King Richard”, a biographical film that focused on Richard William’s influence on the lives of young Venus and Serena, was released in theaters back in 2021. He was played by Will Smith who received an Oscar nomination for the role. The film was also nominated for Best Picture.
5. Her mother, Oracene Price, was working as a nurse when she met and married Richard Williams. Price learned how to play tennis to help teach her daughters about the technicalities of the sport. Oracene and Richard divorced in 2002.
6. Venus and Serena Williams have several half-sisters and half-brothers. These include Sabrina, Ronner, Reluss, Richard III, and Reneeka from their father’s previous marriage, as well as Yetunde, Lyndrea, and Isha from their mother’s previous marriage.
7. When Venus was 10 years old, tennis coach Rick Macci saw her and her sister play. He was so impressed that he offered free instructions at his academy. The family accepted and moved to West Palm Beach, Florida shortly afterwards.
8. Venus held a 63-0 record in the US Tennis Association junior tour and was ranked No.1 for girls under 12 years old in Southern California.
9. When Venus was 11, her father pulled her and Serena out of junior tournaments to avoid burnout which affected other young tennis stars such as Jennifer Capriati. He told them to focus on school, pulled them out of the academy, and coached them himself.
10. Another reason for the pull-out was the racial discrimination they experienced in the predominantly white sport at the time.
Early Tennis Career
11. Venus Williams turned pro in 1994 when she was only 14. Her first professional tournament was the Bank of the West Classic in Oakland, California. She lost in the second round to eventual champion Arantxa Sanchez Vicario.
12. In April 1997, Venus reached the finals in her US Open debut. This makes her the first unseeded woman to become a finalist in the tournament since 1958. However, she lost in the finals match to the veteran Martina Hingis.
13. 1998 was a breakthrough year in which she cracked the Top 10, reached the quarterfinals of all the grand slams she entered, and finished the year as the world’s No.5 player. She also won her first Grand Slam mixed doubles titles with Justin Gimeslob.
14. In 1999, she went against Serena Williams in the finals of Key Biscayne. It was the first time in the history of the WTA Tour where the finals featured two sisters, and it would become a familiar sight from then on. Venus won in three sets.
15. At the 2000 Sydney Olympics, Venus Williams won the gold medal in women’s singles after beating Sanchez Vicario, Monica Seles, and Elena Dementieva. She also won women’s doubles by teaming up with Serena.
16. In 2002, she finally reached No.1 in the world tennis rankings thanks to Glam Slam wins the year before and a strong start to the season. This made her the first African-American woman to hold the position in history.
17. In 2003, Venus and Serena Williams played in the final of the Australian Open. It was the first time in the Open Era where four consecutive grand slams were contested by the same two players.
18. Injuries prevented Venus from performing well at several tournaments, sometimes being forced to retire in matches or suffering early exits. These included knee injuries, abdominal injuries, and wrist injuries. She also had problems with anemia.
19. When Venus was healthy, she was still able to perform well such as winning the 2005 Wimbledon Championships. She achieved the feat even after being down match point, the first woman in 70 years to do so.
20. At the 2007 French Open, Venus’ serve sent the ball flying at 129-mph which is the second fastest serve by a woman ever recorded. It is also the fastest recorded in a main draw match at that time.
21. The same year, she won the Wimbledon for the fourth time against all odds. Only three other legendary women have done this: Steffi Graf, Billie Jean King, and Martina Navratilova.
22. In 2008, Venus won another Olympic gold in Beijing in the women’s doubles, again with her sister Serena. She also won her fifth Wimbledon title despite ongoing medical issues.
23. Venus settled for runner-up honors at the 2009 Wimbledon but she was able to win Grand Slam doubles titles that year with her sister Serena and went as high as No.5 in the rankings.
24. The Williams sisters reached No.1 ranking in doubles. Only 5 other women were able to achieve the top rank in both singles and doubles: Martina Navratilova, Martina Hingis, Arantxa Sanchez Vicario, Linday Davenport, and Kim Clijsters.
25. In 2011, Venus Williams was diagnosed with Sjogrens Syndrome. It is an autoimmune disease that affects the kidneys, lungs, and nervous system. It causes fatigue, muscle pain, and dryness.
26. The illness affected her game. Following the diagnosis, Venus temporarily stopped playing at competitive events but appeared in exhibition matches. Her ranking dropped to No. 102 at the end of 2011.
27. By early 2012, Venus was back on tour after receiving treatment. She was not as dominant in singles matches but managed to win another Wimbledon doubles title with her sister. The pair also won their third Olympic gold medal in London.
28. It was a tough 2013 with a recurring back injury forcing her to withdraw from several tournaments. Although she had some good games, she was not able to perform well enough to win a title.
29. The title drought was broken in 2014 when she won the Dubai Tennis Championships. She also cracked the Top 20 in singles for the first time since 2010, before the medical issues appeared.
30. The resurgence continued with an Olympic silver medal in mixed doubles at Rio 2016. This makes her the only female player, aside from Kathleen McKane Godfree, to get medals in all three tennis events.
31. When Venus beat Angelique Kerber in the 2017 Miami Open quarterfinals, she became the oldest player to win over the current world No.1. This win and other performances propelled her back to the Top 5.
32. Venus received a wildcard entry into Wimbledon where she won her first-round match. It was her 90th Grand Slam appearance — the most of any tennis player.
33. Venus and Serena Williams have gone head-to-head in 31 professional matches since 1998. Venus won 12 of those, two being Grand Slam tournament finals.
34. Early in her career, Venus was often compared to the former No.1 Martina Hingis who had a vastly different style of play. Hingis leads their match-up 11-10.
35. Williams also had a rivalry with Lindsay Davenport who is ahead 14-13 in their matches. However, Venus has beaten her every time in Grand Slam finals. Their match at the 2005 Wimbledon broke the record for the longest final match in the event’s history.
36. The 31 year old Yetunde Price, Venus’ half-sister, adviser, and personal assistant, was unfortunately shot dead in their neighborhood of Compton in 2016 not far from the tennis courts where the sisters practiced as kids.
37. Following the diagnosis of Sjogren’s syndrome, Venus switched to a vegan diet and lowered her sugar and calorie intake as part of her recovery efforts.
38. Venus has dated a few men including golfer Hank Kuehne from 2007 to 2010, Cuban model Elio Pis from 2012 to 2015, and publishing heir Nicholas Hammond from 2017 to 2019.
39. Venus pursued fashion design at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale. She received her associate degree on December 13, 2007 at age 27.
40. She also went on to receive a Bachelor’s degree in business administration from Indiana University East in 2015. This was made possible by the school’s agreement with the Women’s Tennis Association to let players go on tour while they complete their online courses.
41. Venus Williams is a Jehovah’s Witness. She and her sisters converted in the 1980s following their mother’s footsteps. Other famous people of this faith are the singers Selena, Prince, and Michael Jackson.
42. Venus was involved in a car accident in 2017 in which a 78-year-old man died. After reviewing surveillance videos, it was determined that the cause was a third vehicle that cut off Venus’ car and triggered the collision.
43. Venus Williams fought for equality along with pioneers like Billie Jean King and Chris Evert. Her 2006 essay in The Times of London was instrumental in garnering support from British politicians, leading to equal pay at Wimbledon and the French Open.
44. Venus was the first beneficiary of the equalized prize money after winning the 2007 Wimbledon. She was given the same amount as the male champion, Roger Federer.
45. The fight for equality was explored in the 2013 documentary “Venus VS.”, the first episode of the series “Nine for IX” which is about women in sports as told by female filmmakers.
Business and Marketing
46. Venus Williams runs her own interior design firm, V Starr Interiors. Among its noteworthy projects are the athletes’ village apartments for New York’s bid to host the Olympics and the set of the Tavis Smiley Show on PBS.
47. Venus partnered with the retailer Steve & Barry to create her own clothing line. Branded as “EleVen”, it features activewear that is both comfortable and fashionable. The line was modeled by athletes in the 2012 NY Fashion Week.
48. Venus and Serena Williams became minority owners of the American football team Miami Dolphins in 2009. They are the first African-American women own an NFL franchise.
49. Venus Williams began consultations with nutritionists to optimize her diet for recovery from her autoimmune disease. After testing countless protein shake recipes, she started her own plant-based protein company Happy Viking.
50. In 2021, she partnered with online mattress retailer GhostBed to make a collection of performance mattress featuring her designs. In the future, this will become a complete line of sleep solutions, as well as a home furnishings collection.
10 Interesting Facts about Her
51. Venus Williams is the only tennis player to reach the Olympic finals in five different occasions. These were tallied in Sydney 2000, Athens 2004, Beijing 2008, London 2012, and Rio 2016.
52. Her total career prize money from tournaments so far is $42,173,992 which puts her at second place in the all-time list behind her sister Serena Williams and just ahead of third place Maria Sharapova.
53. She has amassed a total of 7 Grand Slam titles with 5 of these being Wimbledon Championships and 2 of them being US Opens. Her total career titles stand at 49 for singles events and 22 for doubles.
54. Her career record for singles is 815 wins and 265 losses for a winning percentage of 75.5%. As for doubles, she racked up 185 wins and 37 losses for a winning percentage of 83.3%. For mixed doubles, she had 28 wins and 8 losses.
55. Venus was coached by former pro David Witt from 2007 to 2018. The Williams sisters met him in Florida while practicing in 2002. He became their hitting partner and eventually a coach. After a poor 2018 season, Venus parted ways with Witt. She is currently coached by Eric Hechtman.
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