Venus Williams is one of the best tennis players in the world, but she also dons the coveted title of “Dog Mom.” The 42-year-old icon owns a Havanese named Harry, so it only made sense for her to partner up with Purina Pro Plan Sport for her latest collaboration encouraging other pet owners to join the Monday Like a Pro Challenge.
From March 13 through May 21, the seven-time Grand Slam winner and Team Pro Plan will “issue weekly challenges inviting owners nationwide to log active minutes with their dog and experience the life-changing nutrition of Pro Plan Sport,” according to the official press release. For every week the company amasses one million collective minutes of activity from participants, Pro Plan will donate up to $150,000 to Athletes For Animals, a nonprofit organization dedicated to “educating the public about responsible pet ownership, promoting pet adoption, raising funds and distributed grants to support best practices in animal welfare.”
In an exclusive conversation with REVOLT, the one and only Venus Williams chats about being a dog mom, how she remains committed to evolving, her advice to young people on social media, and the most significant challenges she’s faced in life. Read our Women’s History Month interview with the living legend below.
What about Purina made you feel this partnership would be the perfect fit?
Just being a dog mom – Harry and I spend every moment of the day together; he goes to practice with me, to the office, to tennis matches, etc. Harry is the staple of my life, so telling this message of being active and being involved with your pet resonates with me.
What’s one fun and easy way a dog parent can be active with their pet?
It’s as simple as going for a walk, and you can have an adventure, too. I was watching a movie, and a woman went on this trail – it could’ve been the Appalachian Mountains or a trail on the Rockies — but I thought about how I wanted to do that with my dog. I backed off the idea when I realized I had to dig holes for him to go to the bathroom (laughs). But, I did think about how unique that experience would’ve been — he would’ve been tough enough to do it, but not me (laughs).
It’s Women’s History Month! What’s the best thing about being a Black woman?
I’ve always loved who I am, but I was taught to love myself. My mother was big on that and making sure we love who we are, while my father knew our history — this shaped who I am and opened the doors for us to feel that way. I think every person should love who they are despite any color. Still, it’s vital for African Americans and African American women. Historically, it wasn’t easy to be who we are, so many had to learn how to self-love.
When did you first discover your femininity, and how did you fall in love with it?
I’ve always had it and been a “girly girl,” but there was a point in my life where I decided to lean into it. For my business meetings, I felt I needed to wear a black suit and look almost super masculine — then I was like I’m in the design field, so I don’t need to wear a suit. Also, I’m a woman, so I’m just going to be all of that. Then I showed up in a burgundy jumpsuit and said to myself, ‘Let me do this,’ and that was freeing at that moment to be myself. Don’t be intimidated by it, hide it, or none of that — I’m just me.
What’s something you do to actively work on being a better version of yourself?
Oh my goodness, I loved that you asked this question because I’ve been saying this as I continue to better myself — I call it self-betterment. I love beauty treatments, and lately, I’ve been getting laser treatments; one therapy I love is very mild, closes your pores, and it’s supposed to generate collagen, and help with acne and pigmentation. I got injured a few weeks back, so I’ve found myself only doing laser, but I also do things to better my knowledge, like learning a new language, learning about art, and delving deeper into finance.
What’s the biggest misconception about women’s sports?
People will see these moments of you holding that trophy — that is a moment. They don’t see the first-round losses, the injuries, the years of hard work before you play your first event or competition. It’s a lifestyle, and it’s not very glamorous, but restrictive and severe (laughs). You train all day, every day, and you’re dialed in.
You’ve been showing off some excellent interviewing skills with your “Insider Tennis” social media segment. Is this a career path you would eventually like to take?
I like that idea as long as the show feels authentic to me. I would want it to be fun, engaging, and nothing that stiff. I should think about something.
You’ve entered the social media influencer realm. What do you love about the space and what’s something you would change?
The change would be the hope that it isn’t affecting people’s lives, especially young people because they care about social media. I would like them to know it’s such a small aspect of your life — like, the world is a real world with things to experience and learn. It doesn’t have to be through the lens of social media, and you don’t even have to show that stuff. Just live an authentic life, and social media is cool to share, but it’s only real sometimes.
How do you decide what to share?
For me, whatever I feel comfortable with. If I wonder if I should press send, I probably shouldn’t. If you think about whether or not to send it because it lives on the internet forever, be sure before you publish (chuckles).
You have an upcoming documentary called COPA 71. What can fans expect?
I’m a huge proponent of women’s sports and love the opportunity to tell this story about this fantastic team during the Women’s World Cup. I love telling true-to-life stories because I lived that life. It was a historic soccer tournament, and the year was 1971 — before anyone connected with women’s soccer and told the story about the extraordinary events during the 1971 Women’s World Cup. Fascinating.
You also executive produced a Hallmark movie called Game, Set, Love. Are there anymore stories you want to get on the big screen?
I love Hallmark (laughs). It was a cute film about tennis and sports, and I love the opportunity to bring sports to all platforms. It was the best, so there’s no limit to where sports can go, and there are more sports stories to tell in many different ways.
Let’s say you’re on the tennis court facing the most significant challenge of your life. How are you actively looking to overcome it?
Well, that challenge changes every day – some days, you’re not playing very well, and other days the wind is blowing, so the ball is everywhere. You may be hurt on different days, and your opponent plays incredibly. Allow yourself to focus on the challenge and that moment – allowing yourself to be free and compete is the dream on the court and in life. We’re often focused on the result when the focus should be on the performance. That’s what I try to tell myself when I walk onto the court.
The court of life.
Yes, I like that — the court of life.