When some people finish a long day of work, they go relax in their backyards; when Venus Williams finishes a long day of work, she designs backyards.
Williams founded her own design firm V Starr in 2002 when she was merely a 23-year-old tennis champion who had finished a master’s degree in interior design and wanted to take her artistic passion to the next level (we’ll give you a moment to reflect on your accomplishments at 23 and take a deep breath).
Venus has famously decorated her sister Serena’s homes—as well as hotels across the U.S.—but during lockdown last year she turned to her own Palm Beach backyard as a creative outlet and project.
“I wanted a calm environment where I could re-energize after a busy day,” Williams says. “But in South Florida we live outside year round, so it had to be a place where I could throw a party just as easily as I could take a nap.”
It comes as little surprise that someone who lives in their tennis whites also gravitates toward the color in her own decorating. “My style is pretty modern and I tend to lean toward neutral colors,” says Williams.
“The creamy-white furniture from Serena & Lily creates a vivid contrast against the lush greenery around the pool and complements the tropical surroundings.” Williams recommends investing in outdoor furniture that can withstand the unpredictable elements and to think about the long-term value of each purchase. And when it comes to playing the long game, it’s safe to say Williams knows what she is talking about.
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.”
Williams, stepped away from the U.S. Open to talk about growth in plus-size fashion. 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.”
“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.”