Tennis Icon Venus Williams Reveals Her Biggest Hurdle As An Entrepreneur
Photo Credit: Axelle/Bauer-Griffin

Tennis Icon Venus Williams Reveals Her Biggest Hurdle As An Entrepreneur

When taking a look at the history of tennis, it’s an unarguable fact that Venus Williams is one of the trailblazers that paved the way.

In the words of her fellow legendary sister, Serena Williams:I wouldn’t be Serena if there wasn’t Venus.” 

The early stages: While Williams has solidified her mark in her sport for decades, she recently shared the early stages of her path as an entrepreneur.

 

Similar to how she busted her tail in the midst of being a Black woman in a predominately white sport, she put in the work to excel with her business endeavors such as EleVen, her clothing brand. 

“My biggest hurdle as an entrepreneur was gaining respect in an industry I hadn’t been in before and finding a way to make the work extra meaningful,” Williams shared with AfroTech. “Gaining respect in business was similar to that in sports – be consistent, put out a good product or result, and the respect will follow.”

Venus Williams Credits Her Mom For Exploring Her Creativity 

“I’ve always had a passion for tennis, and part of why I’ve been able to stay in love with the sport for so long is because I have interests outside of it as well, like fashion and interior design,” the tennis champion told us. “My mom always encouraged me to explore my creative side. So, being able to tap into that side of myself, whether it’s with my lifestyle brand EleVen, or my interior design firm V Starr, it’s a way I can express myself and contribute to industries that I find so exciting.”

Creating meaningful work, as well as filling voids in industries with her business ventures has always driven Williams. Tying her passion for fashion into her advocacy for closing the gender pay gap, she created EleVen’s Privilege Tax Initiative — which allows customers to donate toward the movement and benefit the charity Girls Inc.

Another brand under Williams’ belt is Happy Viking: In August, AfroTech previously reported the plant-based superfood nutrition company raised $2 million in an investment round led by:

  • Venus Williams
  • Serena Williams
  • Kevin Durant and Rich Kleiman’s 35V
  • Peloton Vice President of Fitness Programming Robin Arzón
  • Professional golfer Michelle Wie West
  • Soccer champion Megan Rapinoe
  • Tennis star Reilly Opelka
  • Basketball stars Isaiah Hartenstein and Collin Sexton

The Balance Of It All

As Williams continues to balance being a professional athlete and businesswoman, her secret formula is all in her outlook on quality ruling over everything.

“My approach to all my companies is very similar to my approach to my career as an athlete,” she said. “As both an athlete and an entrepreneur, I always strive to perform at my best and present the best version possible, whether it be of myself or a product. I never want to put anything out that isn’t up to the highest standard so, just like in sports, we practice.”