Venus Williams was born on June 17, 1980, in Lynwood, California. Venus is the fourth out of the five girls in her family. She is best known today as becoming the first African-American to become the number one ranked tennis player in the world.
As a child, Venus learned to play tennis from her dad who was a farmer from Louisiana. Although her dad didn’t know much about tennis, he read many books and watched videos to help both of his daughters learn the game. Venus and her sister, Serena, spent long hours on the court polishing their games.
Her family moved to West Palm Beach, Florida, so that she and her sister could study under Coach Rick Macci at his tennis academy. There, Venus worked hard each day studying the game and perfecting her skills. Unfortunately, after hearing several mean and racist comments about his girls, Richard, Venus’ father, decided to withdraw Venus and her sister from the Macci Academy and took over coaching them at their home. Despite this setback, by age 10, Venus’ serve had reached over 100 miles per hour. Amazingly, as a member of the United States Tennis Association’s Juniors tour, she used her powerful serve and athleticism to achieve an undefeated record of 63-0.
On October 31, 1994, Venus turned professional and joined the women’s tour. In 2000, she received a $40 million contract with Reebok after winning both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open, two of the most important tennis tournaments in the world. In 2001, she repeated as U.S. open and Wimbledon champions.
Also, in 2000 Venus and her sister had worked hard enough to make the US Olympic Team and compete in Sydney, Australia. Venus was certainly up for the challenge! She captured the gold medal in the singles competition and then won a second gold with her sister in the doubles match. The two sisters seemed unstoppable.
In 2011, Williams was diagnosed with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that left her very tired and her muscles very sore. She was forced to cut down on her training days and switch to a vegan diet. Fortunately, it worked. Her health had improved enough for her to win a third Wimbledon title and more medals in the 2012 Olympics in London, England.
Today, even though Venus is mostly known for her tennis career, she also excels in art and fashion. She started her own clothing line called, EleVen and her own interior design company called V*Interiors. She even wrote her own New York Times Best Seller book entitled, “Come To Win: Business Leaders, Artists, Doctors, and Other Visionaries on How Sports Can Help You Top Your Profession”.
Venus Williams has proven to be a dominate force both on the tennis court and off. In all, she has won 49 singles titles and 22 Grand Slam titles, seven in singles, thirteen in women’s doubles and two in mixed doubles. She is often credited with ushering in a new generation of female players, with more power, athleticism, and flair. Venus is admired for her athletic ability and business sense, but most importantly for showing the world how a poor African American girl from California can rise to the top and become an international star.