An iconic player in the field of women tennis, Venus Williams is a name to reckon with. Her excellence at the game is prominent from the fact that she not only bagged herself numerous victories and titles, but went on to become the first African American to rank herself at the World No 1 position. Seven Grand Slam titles, four Olympic Gold medals, thirteen women’s doubles and two mixed doubles title old Venus Williams was blessed with exceptional talent for the game since young. Starting early, Williams turned professional at the age of fourteen and rest as they is history. Game after game, she polished her skills and her prowess in the game to bring out the excellence in her. It is her agility around the net, explosive hitting capability and exceptional serve that has made Williams a top notch player so much so that she holds the record for the fastest serve struck by a woman in a main draw event. For her outstanding contribution in the game of tennis, she has been ranked amongst the ‘30 Legends of Women's Tennis: Past, Present and Future’ by Times. She has also managed herself a position in the Forbes Top 100 Celebrity list. Interestingly, other than being an ace tennis pro, Williams is an exceptional entrepreneur as well.
Childhood & Early Life
Venus Williams was born to Richard Williams and Oracene Price in Lynwood, California. She has four siblings, all sisters. Venus was the fourth child.
The family shifted base to Compton when young Williams was just four years old. This change in location gave her and younger sister, Serena Williams an opportunity to try their hand at the game of tennis.
It was under the guidance of Rick Macci that the Williams sisters’ skill for the game grew by leaps and bounds.
Such was Venus Williams’ talent for the game that she became the No. 1 player among the under-12 players in South California when she was merely eleven. However, racial issues and demeaning comments from the society led to young Williams’ withdrawing their name from the academy.
Richard Williams then shouldered the responsibility of training his daughters at the game on his own and became their official coach.
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Venus Williams played her first official game when she was fourteen years old. Though she lost the match, she was up a set and a service break against then World No. 2 Arantxa Sanchez Vicario at one point.
In 1995, Williams played three tournaments. Though she lost all the three, in the match at Oakland, she managed to beat World No 18 Amy Frazier to reach the quarterfinals.
The feat was followed in 1996 when she lost four times in the first round but managed to reach the third round in Los Angeles, before losing to World Number 1 Steffi Graf.
Early Career Success
Year 1997 brought with it sweet news for Williams’ as she tasted success for the first time. In the Tier I tournaments, Williams managed to reach the quarterfinals of three out of the five contest, thus winning herself a position in the Top 100.
1997 Grand Slams brought in mixed results for Williams. While she lost in the first round of Wimbledon, in the French Open she managed to reach the second round. In Australian Open, she reached till quarterfinals.
US Open was the most successful out of the other three as Williams managed to reach the finals, where she lost to Martina Hingis. For her outstanding performance, Williams climbed to 22nd position in the ATP world rankings.
Williams’ first single title win came in 1997 IGA Tennis Classic played in Oklahoma City, where she outplayed Joannette Kruger.
The Tier I tournaments in 1998 was a mixed affair; while she failed to qualify for the finals of the State Farm Evert Cup in Indian Wells, she went on to defeat then World No. 1 Hingis to reach the final of Lipton International Players Championships. With this, she secured herself 10th position in the ATP world rankings.
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Williams performance in the 1998 Grand Slams was better than her previous outings as she managed to reach the quarterfinals of all the four Grand Slam tournaments. Her prowess for the game won her the World No. 5 ranking on July 27, 1998.
Williams teamed with Justin Gimelstob for the mixed doubles at the Grand Slam 1998. While she safely secured two titles, her younger sister Serena won the other two, eventually turning the year into the ‘Williams Family Mixed Doubles Grand Slam’.
In the 1999 Grand Slams, Williams failed to reach the semi-finals of Australian Open and Wimbledon, being defeated by Davenport and Steffi Graf. However, her performance at the US Open was a fruitful one as she reached the semi-finals before losing to Martina Hingis in three sets. As for French Open, she successfully guarded her winning streak to 22 matches before losing in the fourth round to World No. 125 Barbara Schwartz.
Williams’ performance at the other tournaments in 1999 were remarkable as she played successful tennis against some of the top players of game such as Novotna, Steffi Graf, Mary Pierce, Lindsay Davenport, Monica Seles, and so on. It was due to this that she managed the World No. 3 ranking by the end of the year.
While Williams’ singles victory counts were escalating steadily, her pairing with sister Serena also paid rewarding results as the two managed to win women's doubles titles at the French Open and the US Open in the year 1999. This was, however, just the beginning as they went on to win many more titles in the category.
Phase of Dominance
Williams dominance over the game started in 2000. Though she lost the early part of year months due to wrist injury, she managed to reach the quarter finals of the French Open.
Williams went on to win 35 consecutive singles and six tournaments. Her first singles Grand Slam victory also came the same year, 2000, as she defeated Martina Hingis to win the Wimbledon. Next, Williams sisters teamed at the event to bag the women’s doubles title at the event.
Williams’ performance at the US Open was noteworthy as she outplayed then World’s Top 2 players, Hingis and Davenport to bag the title. At the Sydney Olympics, Williams brought home a gold medal, successfully beating Sanchez Vicario in the quarterfinals, Seles in the semi-finals and Elena Dementieva in the final. Williams sisters also won the Olympic gold in women’s doubles.
The brilliantly crafted year brought Williams’ six singles titles and a world ranking at No. 3.
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Year 2001 was a mirror effect in terms of success for Venus Williams. She not only managed to reach the semi-finals at the Australian Open, the sisters won the doubles title of the year, thereby completing Career Grand Slam in women’s doubles for the duo.
Her performance at the Tier II tournaments was exceptional. She managed to defeat Hingis in the semi-finals and World No. 4 Jennifer Capriati in the final. It was due to this victory that Williams rose to a career high ranking at World No. 2.
The US Open and Wimbledon of 2001 brought with it sweet fragrance of success as Williams successfully defended her title at both the games, thus becoming the only sixth woman in history to win the titles in consecutive years. She played the US Open final against Serena, which became the first Grand Slam singles final contested by two sisters during the open era.
On February 25, 2002, she attained the World No 1 ranking. Though she held the position for just about three weeks, she was the first African-American woman to ever take the prestigious position.
In the 2002 Grand Slams, Williams lost in the quarterfinals oft the Australian Open to Monica Seles. She managed to reach the finals of the French Open, US Open and Wimbledon, each time being defeated by Serena at the finals, who soon replaced Venus as the World No. 1.
The era of dominance of the Williams sisters reached another peak as they went on to win their fifth Grand Slam women's doubles title together at the Wimbledon. Williams finished the year ranked World No. 2 having won seven titles..
Injuries & Setbacks
2003 started on a good note with Williams qualifying for the Australian Open final, her first ever since her career. Though French Open brought dismal results, at Wimbledon, she attained victory against Lindsay Davenport and Kim Clijsters before losing to her sister in the finals. As for women’s doubles, the two went on to bag their sixth Grand Slam title.
The success streak of Venus Williams met with a halt as she struggled with injuries from 2003 until 2006. Though she went on to win couple of matches, each time when she was close to winning the title, the injury played the spoilsport as Williams failed to bag a title.
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Year 2005 brought mixed results. While she lost in the third round at French Open and fourth round of Australian Open and US Open each, at Wimbledon, she sealed herself a victory in the finals defeating Davenport. With this victory, she managed her fifth Grand Slam singles title overall and her third Wimbledon title. The triumph also brought Williams back to the top 10 ranking list.
2006 was a disappointing year for Williams as her injury escalated and she failed to capitalize on her success streak despite being one of the promising contestants for the titles. Due to this, Williams finished the season as World No. 46.
The second innings in the professional career of Venus Williams was successful one. Though she missed out on 2007 Australian Open, she recorded a win for herself at the Wimbledon, thus becoming the fourth woman in the open era to win Wimbledon at least four times.
At US Open, she advanced to the semi-final stage, which she lost to Justine Henin. At the year end, Williams was securely positioned at the World No 8 with three titles and a winning percentage of 83 percent.
Her performance at the 2008 Grand Slams was remarkable. While she managed to reach the quarterfinal of Australian Open and US Open, she successfully defended her Wimbledon title thus increasing her overall Grand Slam singles title to seven and overall Wimbledon title to five.
As for women’s doubles, the Williams sisters won their second gold medal at the Beijing Olympics, their first being at Sydney Olympics in 2000.
The following year, i.e. in 2009, she finished at the sixth spot in singles and World No. 3 in doubles with Serena.
In 2010, Williams’ prowess at the game, the agility in her stroke and top-class service all contributed to making her return to the World No. 2 ranking, only behind her own sister Serena. While she made it to the quarterfinals of Australian Open single, in women’s double, the Williams sisters bagged yet another victory.
At the 2010 French Open, she advanced past the third round but failed against Nadia Petrova in round 16. The sisters’ then capitalized on their success mantra to record their fourth consecutive Grand Slam women’s double title.
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While Williams reached the quarterfinal of 2010 Wimbledon, she failed to get past it due to her knee injury which worsened. Despite this, she participated at the US Open as the third seed, winning three matches to move into the fourth round
In 2011, William’s tryst to overcome her injuries failed miserably as she suffered injuries and sickness. She retired hurt in the third round of the Australian Open, did not participate in the French Open, lost in the fourth round of Wimbledon, and withdrew in the second round of the US Open due to illness. Her frequent injuries and illness caused a major dip in her ranking; from World No 2 to World No 102.
In 2012, Williams did not make an appearance in the Australian Open. At the French Open, she lost in the second round to Agnieszka Radwanska in straight sets. As for Wimbledon, she lost in the first round itself, while in US Open, she failed to make it to the third round of the match.
While her performance at the singles were far from satisfactory, women’s doubles alongside sister Serena brought fruitful results as the two went on to bag their third gold medal at the Olympics.
The year ended on a happy note with Williams winning her 44th career WTA title and her first in over two and half years at the 2012 BGL Luxembourg Open. With this, her ranking rose to World No 24.
Awards & Achievements
In her prolific career, Williams has won seven singles Grand Slam titles, thirteen titles in women’s doubles and two mixed doubles title.
For her outstanding performance, she became the World No 1 for the first time on February 25, 2002. With this, she became the first African American to achieve this feat in the Open Era.
Williams has won four Olympic Gold Medals, one in singles and three in doubles. Along with her sister Serena, she is the only player to have won more Olympic gold medals than any other female tennis players.
Williams won the WTA Newcomer of the Year award in 1997. Same year, she also won the September’s Olympic Committee Female Athlete.
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In 2000, Williams won the WTA Player of the Year, along with WTA Doubles Team of the Year Awards. She was bestowed with the Sportswoman of the Year Award and Extraordinary Achievement Award.
Williams won the Best Female Athlete ESPY Award and Best Female Tennis ESPY Award.
Personal Life & Legacy
Venus Williams was romantically involved with pro-golfer Hank Kuehne since 2007. The two shared a great chemistry and understanding. However, they broke up in 2010.
Presently, Williams is dating Cuban model, Elio Pis. The two met for the first time when the latter modelled for Williams’ fashion line, EleVen.
Williams’ injuries and wounds catapulted immensely over the years. It was only in 2011 that she was diagnosed with a Sjogren's syndrome, an autoimmune disease in which immune cells attack saliva and tear glands.
Williams, presently, follows a vegan diet, which helps decrease inflammation and reduces the energy-sapping symptoms of the disease through the reduction of calories, pesticides and sugars
She has a total of 44 career titles in her kitty, out of which are seven Grand Slam victories and four Olympic Gold Medals. She is the only woman since Helen Wilis Moody to win a gold medal in both the singles and doubles games.
She made her first Grand Slam appearance in the year 1997 at the French Open. The same year, she became the first unseeded player to reach a Grand Slam final, when she set up a title clash in the US open against Martina Hingis.
In February 2002, she became the first African-American woman to become World No. 1 since the computer rankings began in 1975. Same year, she became the first ever siblings to rank Top 2 at same time with Serena.
She has played against her sister 24 times, out of which she won 10 times. They played against each other in eight Grand Slam singles final and alongside each other in thirteen Grand Slam women’s doubles.
She played a pioneering role in equalizing the prize money for men and women in the Wimbledon and French Open. Interestingly, she became the first woman to benefit from the equalisation of prize money.
In addition to tennis, this ace sports star initiated an interior designing firm called ‘V Starr Interiors’ of which she is the chief executive officer and her own fashion line ‘EleVen’. Additionally, she has also co-authored a book, ‘Come to Win; on How Sports Can Help You Top Your Profession’.