Venus Williams is the icon we all need right now. At 41, she’s now the inverse of the age she was when she first went pro. That’s almost three decades of excellence. From the tennis court to her (many, many) businesses, Venus plays win. For Cosmopolitan’s October 2021 cover story, writer Sylvia Obell shares a super-inside look at what’s next for Venus Williams. Joined on Cosmo’s cover by her Havanese, Harold Reginald Williams, Venus is doing everything—love included—exactly the way she wants to.
On the next generation of young Black female athletes who are speaking out and fighting back: “I admire everyone who stands up for what is right, which isn’t easy. It takes strength, courage, and vulnerability. I love to see this next generation of players be willing and open to do that regardless of the cost to them.”
On the magnitude of her impact when she emerged on the national stage in the late ’90s: “I didn’t see myself as different. I saw myself as a great player. I thought I was better, that I could win.”
On being raised as a champion with integrity and being an unflappable warrior on the court: “We’re like gladiators out there, literally. You go out there with your lance and it’s just you.”
On learning how to cope with the pressure of being a world-famous athlete: “As you grow up and mature, you realize you don’t have to be in any situation you find disrespectful. You can let people know what you find disrespectful. It doesn’t have to be yelling or screaming. I’m not a combative person. I’m never going to let any situation change that, because I want to look back and know that I stayed true to who I am. So come. Come for me if you want to, but you won’t come again.”
On advocating for equal earnings between women and men, and launching the privilege tax initiative: “It’s not about the money, but it is about the money, right? Those who have money have power. When a woman is in power—when she has finances, equal opportunity—she’s able to influence her life, the lives of other women, and the lives of her family in a way that allows her to be free and equal.”
On not feeling influenced by the societal pressures to settle down: “I have a lot of friends who don’t believe me when I say that I like my life and I don’t want to change it for any reason. I’m not desperate and they don’t believe me. They say things like, ‘You’re going to miss your window.’ I’m like, ‘Please, relax. You might feel this way, but I don’t. I promise you I don’t.’”
[Photo Credit: AB + DM for Cosmopolitan Magazine]