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Venus Williams is an African-American professional women's tennis player. She's a former world number one and has five Grand Slam titles to her credit.
Venus Ebone Starr Williams was born on June 17, 1980 in Lynwood, California. She has a younger sibling Serena Williams. Her father Richard Williams encouraged both sisters to play tennis from a very young age. By the time she was four, Venus was already hitting tennis balls for hours at two rundown public courts in Watts and Compton.
When Venus was 12, she along with her sister Serena joined Rick Macci's Tennis Academy in Florida. For the next four years, the sisters practiced six hours a day, six days a week.
Venus turned professional on October 31, 1994 when she was 14. In 1995, after playing in only one pro tournament, Venus signed a five-year, $12 million contract with Reebok. However, her career really took off in 1997 when she became the first unseeded finalist at the US Open since 1968. She lost 6-0, 6-4 to Martina Hingis.
In 1998, Venus graduated from the exclusive Driftwood Academy. She also reached the US Open semifinal. She teamed with her sister Serena and won the 1998 French Open doubles title. They became the first pair of sisters to win a doubles title in the 20th century.
Venus and Serena's team dominated the major doubles tennis tournaments for the next few years. At the individual level, Venus's rise to number one continued. In 2000, she won two Olympic gold medals at the Sydney Summer Olympics. She also won the Wimbledon championship and the U.S. Open title. The feat earned her the rare distinction of being only the second player in history to win Wimbledon, the Olympics, and the U.S. Open in the same year. For her achievements, Sports Illustrated awarded her the "Sportswoman of the Year" title in 2000.
Venus carried her good form in 2001 and successfully defended both Grand Slam titles beating her sister Serena for the US Open. In February 2002, Venus became the first African-American woman to reach the #1 ranking on the WTA Tour.
However, Serena dominated Venus in 2002 and 2003. During this period, Venus reached five major finals but lost all of them to Serena.
After 2003, her performance declined. The best she achieved in 2004 was a quarter-final appearance at Wimbledon. However in 2005, just when her critics were writing her off, she came back by winning the Wimbledon. The final match against Lindsay Davenport has been termed as one of the best ever in women's tennis. She defeated Davenport 4-6, 7-6, 9-7 for the title.
In 2005, Tennis Magazine ranked her 25th in its list of 40 Greatest Players of the tennis era.
In 2006, Venus hasn't performed to the best of her abilities and has fueled speculation that her time is over.
Apart from tennis, Venus manages her interior design firm "V Starr Interiors" based in Jupiter, Florida. She currently attends fashion design school and has also designed a collection of leather apparel that is sold exclusively at Wilson's Leather.
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