YEARBOOK 2018: Venus Williams On Why We Love Sports

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Photo by Cameron Spencer/Getty Images

At last year’s Australian Open began, it seemed that Venus Williams was a non-factor. In three of the past five years she hadn’t gotten beyond the first round in Melbourne. “She should be home knitting,” said one Aussie fan. She hardly was on fire.

An enigmatic beauty – mysterious and just a bit mischievous – Venus holds her truths within. Her gravitas is quiet. Serene and minimalist, she told us, “I have a good life, a good family, and a good little dog…I’m living the dream…[and] I’m pretty good at tennis.”

Plus, she added, “I didn’t hear no fat lady sing.” And before we knew it, in a bit of a minor miracle, there was the great 37-year elder, reaching the finals in Melbourne, then Wimbledon, and finally the semis at the US Open. Fans flocked.

African-American Candace Buckner wrote, “I like watching black women do cool stuff on TV…I can already hear the All Tennis Players Matter crowd complaining that I shouldn’t be so caught up on race….But I unabashedly root for representation and role models…I like seeing Venus, her hair natural, like mine, thick and bundled under her brightly-colored visor.”

Venus’ humor is a subtle drop shot. Asked about Serena’s engagement, she quipped, “I heard being married is tough. [You] have to stick around, be supportive, listen. It seems really hard.” As for being an aunt, she joked that her approach would be “spoiling the kid and making Serena’s job harder.”

Still, at her core, Venus is serious and reflective. She told IT, “Why people love sports…is that you see everything in a line. In that moment there is no do-over, no retake, there’s no voice-over. It’s triumph and disaster witnessed in real time. This is why people live and die for sports, because you can’t fake it…Either you do [it] or you don’t.

“People relate to the champion, [but] they also relate to the person who didn’t win, because we all have those moments. Is it an athlete’s job to inspire? Inherently, top level athletes inspire people, but each person takes that responsibility differently…Sport is a little microcosm of life, and it shows the human spirit…fighting against all odds. You never know whose life you’ll touch just by being your best.”

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