For Venus Williams, size doesn’t matter. “I just want to look how I want to look,” the tennis pro said during a panel at theCURVYcon in New York City Friday night. “I want to be healthy, I want to be strong and whatever size that is, for me that’s good enough.”
The athlete and designer of the brand EleVen likened size discrimination in fashion to gender inequality in tennis. “Full equality is something that I think we’ll forever be working on,” she said on the panel. “Even in my industry, you do get exhausted from, oh it’s another man/woman topic. When is the day that we can all be human?” she asked. “We have to fight for that.”
She wishes sizing wasn’t so segregated. “I don’t really like the differentiation between sizes. It should just be your size,” she said. She opened up about the frustrations she faces when shopping.
“For me personally, I’ll go in the store, and I’m about 6’1, so they’ll often come up to me and they’ll bring me the smaller size and I’ll say, ‘oh no, I’m a big girl,’ it’s like, bring me that 8/10!” she said.
“They look at me and assume something, but I’m proud of my size,” Serena Williams’ older sister proclaimed. “I would love that day when it’s just, this is my size, and you can walk in a store and say, this is my size, and nobody cares, and that size is there.”
While the fashion industry might not be there just yet, Williams is pushing it in the right direction with the launch of her label’s first ever plus-size collection, which is in partnership with digital plus-size marketplace Dia&Co. And it’s perfect timing. “I think it’s a time now, too, when people are celebrating their bodies of all sizes,” Williams said. She pointed out that in some ways curvy is actually preferred, now. “People are paying to get more everywhere!” she said referencing the popularity of surgical enhancements like breast and butt implants.
Williams wants to get to a point where plus sizes are no longer a privilege. “It is a special thing but we want it to be an everyday thing.”
Tell me a bit about your inspiration for creating EleVen. What’s your favorite thing about entering the beauty space as a brand founder?
I wanted to build an activewear brand that blended fashion and function. As an athlete, I’ve learned how things need to perform and move to handle any workout, no matter the intensity. As a designer, I knew I wanted to create a line that reflected my approach to style: pops of color, fun prints, and unique designs that are unlike what other brands are doing. As a brand founder, I really just love being able to share my passions for beauty and design with our customers. It’s so rewarding to me.
Over the years I’ve definitely struggled with finding the right sunscreens or makeup products to wear when I’m on the court all day long. With the EleVen by Venus On-the-Defense Sunscreen SPF 30 ($42) and Unrivaled Sun Serum SPF 35 ($50), I wanted to create products that are super lightweight, provide serious protection, and don’t run down my face or sting my eyes when I’m sweating. When it comes to my preferred hairstyles on the court, I’m definitely not one to be shy when it comes to trying out a new hairdo. I do prefer playing with my hair back, but I love experimenting with new styles, whether it’s purple braids or fun alien buns!
You’ve reached a milestone decade, your 40s. Are there any beauty practices you’ve dropped or added as you’ve entered this new phase?
I don’t think there are any practices I’ve dropped, but I’ve definitely added a few over the years. One of my go-to favorite anti-aging products is Asutra’s Hyaluronic Acid Serum ($15), which is 100% vegan, super hydrating, and adds brightness to my face. I’m all for any product that can give me an extra glow!
What are a few of your desert island beauty products and why do you love them so much?
First and foremost, I would definitely need to be protected with the EleVen by Venus On-the-Defense Sunscreen ($42), Unrivaled Sun Serum, and one of the Perfect Form Lip Balm SPF 15 ($19). These products offer full protection which is why they are staples in my skincare routine. For fun, I’d probably want to have Milani’s Stay Put Waterproof Eyeliner ($17) because that stuff is GOOD and lasts so long.
If you could dedicate an entire day to nothing but beauty and self-care, what would the itinerary look like?
I would start the day with a delicious protein shake from my plant-based protein line Happy Viking and some sort of sweet vegan treat—probably a donut! I love exfoliating and scrubbing my body, so any kind of body brush or face brush would definitely be getting some use, and then I’d take a bath using either Asutra Soak The Day Away Deas Sea Bath Salts ($23) or their Magnesium Chloride Bath Flakes ($20). I’d probably then pamper myself with a bit of the Rose Body Oil ($20), get cozy in my PJs, and hang with my dog, Harold! A chill day is the best self-care day for me.
When do you feel most beautiful and why?
I really love natural, glowy, effortless looks. My mom taught me to be confident in my own skin so wearing a lot of makeup isn’t really my thing, but I love the contrast of wearing light face and eye makeup with a bold red lip. The Perfect Form Lip Balm SPF 15 in Venus ($19) is my go-to these days!
I feel really confident on the court, especially when I’m wearing a killer outfit from my Wonder Woman line at EleVen. The court is basically my second home, and I feel so good when I’m able to do something that I love while entertaining others. The fans cheering me on make me feel extra confident, regardless of the outcome.