Venus Williams on What Makes a Strong Woman: “Living Your Dream”

Image Source: Getty / PETER PARKS

Venus Williams seems to have conquered a little bit of everything. She’s a veritable tennis master, a skilled clothing designer, a talented interior designer, and savvy business owner. But though her résumé is stacked, there are two things Venus still wants to accomplish: continuing to empower women and giving back.

Early in her tennis career, Venus picked up on the disparity between the prize payouts for men and women, and in the early 2000s, after making her distinct mark in the sport, she decided to do something about it. “The world is a place where every opportunity is available, being strong and resilient is really what has taken women so far in these last number of years,” she told me while we were discussing Brawny’s Strength Has No Gender Campaign. In 2005, Venus won the singles title at Wimbledon. In 2006, she spoke out about the pay gap at Wimbledon. In 2007, Wimbledon leveled the playing field.

As part of Brawny’s Strength Has No Gender campaign, Venus is taking that opportunity to sing the praises of other women and build female empowerment. “We’re highlighting women who are amazing, like Vernice Armour, who is the first African American female naval aviator,” she said, before continuing on with a nod to inspirations closer to home. Venus said she credits her mom, Oracene Price, for raising her to be resilient. “She taught us to be leaders and to be confident and to be strong,” she said.

Image Source: Getty / Scott Barbour

It goes without saying that Venus also gets inspiration and empowerment from the other women in her family: all her sisters, including fellow tennis star Serena. “Look at all the barriers she’s broken down,” Venus said of her sister. And it’s true: between the two of them they’ve created huge waves in not only tennis, but in the world, and they congratulate each other along the way each time. At the end of this year’s Australian Open, where Serena edged out Venus to take the win, Venus said in her post-match interview, “Serena Williams, that’s my little sister guys!” And Serena fired right back, thanking Venus for inspiring her to be the best player she can be.

“By living your dream you set an example and you empower other women to live their dreams as well.”

Venus spends each day being thankful for where she is and wants to pay it forward as her next mission. “I’ve had the opportunity to be a part of a lot of different amazing causes and charities, so that will be my main focus outside tennis and business,” she said of what she wants to focus on next.

As for that female empowerment that’s always on her mind and being a strong woman, Venus said living your dream is where it all starts: “I feel like standing up for what you believe in — I feel that it’s helping women around you, and I think it’s living your dream, because by living your dream you set an example and you empower other women to live their dreams as well,” she said.