Nate Walroth: Who pushed you to be a great tennis player? What do you love most about tennis?
Venus Williams: My dad was our biggest champion. He had us out on the court at a young age – I first picked up a racquet when I was 4. We’d practice almost every day after school so very early on it became a major part of my life. It took a lot of work and we spent a lot of hours on the court but I’m glad I put in the work when I did because it has paid off throughout my career. That’s my favorite part of the sport – putting in the work and seeing it pay off. It’s the best feeling.
NW: Why did you start EleVen?
VW: My inspiration is the chic and fabulous EleVen women who wear our designs. Our newest collections go beyond the tennis court and feature comfortable, easy to wear, fashion-forward activewear staples like tanks, leggings and bralettes that make a perfect outfit for at-home workouts or hanging out. I want women to feel like they are an 11 out of 10 when they wear my collections, even if it’s just at home right now!
NW: Why the name “EleVen”?
VW: EleVen is all about going that one step further. Why be a 10 when you can be an 11? I think it is so important to provide a community of encouragement, empowerment and positivity in a world where there are so many things that can bring us down, especially as a woman. I wanted to create, not just a brand, but a lifestyle that breaks through the chaos and negativity and focuses on the fun, exciting potential that this life has to offer.
NW: You’re a very confident person & player. Do you feel like that’s part of your brand with EleVen?
VW: EleVen is built on the idea of being the best version of yourself. I wanted our EleVen community to feel fabulous, confident and empowered to take on anything both on and off the court!
NW: You famously advocated for equal prize money for women at Wimbledon and consequently for equal pay for women in sports. What motivated you to take a stance for equal prize money?
VW: For me it was simple and clear; it was about standing up for what I believed was right. Tennis has given me so much opportunity in life, including a platform, so when the opportunity came to fight for women across the sport it was an easy decision. I spoke up for both myself and people everywhere who were facing, or will face, the same kind of injustice in their lives.
I’m glad it was able to create a ripple effect and set a precedent. So much positive change has happened since then, and so much positive change is still needed, but I’m happy I was able to do my part and will continue to do so until it doesn’t need to be a conversation anymore.