Venus Williams Says Her Greatest Victory Was Off the Court — Getting Women Equal Pay at Wimbledon

This month, Venus Williams is on uncharted ground - not on the manicured lawn of the All England Club outside London - and is participating in her 23rd career at Wimbledon.
For the first time since World War II, canceled due to the coronavirus pandemic, 40-year-old Williams became a real tennis king.
"When the season starts, I'm ready," Williams wrote to her fans on Twitter in late March. "I can't wait. Can you?"
Williams, who turned professional in 1994 at just 14, made her Wimbledon debut in 1997 and won her first crown in 2000, defeating her compatriot Lindsay Davenport.
Four single titles, six double championships with her sister Serena Williams and an Olympic gold medal later, Williams says, it's difficult to pick a favorite from the Center Court.
"The first time was an overwhelming experience and obviously something very special for me," she told PEOPLE in this week's issue. "The 2012 Olympic Games are one of the most interesting experiences of my career, but all of these double victories are something special for Serena and me."
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The victory, which she describes as her proudest professional achievement, did not take place in one place. In the mid-2000s, she was instrumental in convincing the Wimbledon and French Open governing bodies to give men and women the same prize money.
"We have been working on this since the 1960s," says Williams. "It was long overdue."
Williams recently used the same attitude to condemn police brutality and promote racial equality. On June 8, she posted a warm message on Instagram. "Just as sexism is not just a" women's problem "," she wrote in a call for unity, "racism is not just a" black problem "."
Zebe Haupt Venus Williams
"We have to make sure that lives are saved and preserved - that's number one for me," Williams told PEOPLE. "We change that by recognizing and giving a voice to what is happening in our world. We also have to deal with other invisible faces of racism, the way we hire someone we cast on television shows. "
For her part, Williams has used her recurring Instagram Live # CoachVenus workouts as a fundraiser for the Equal Justice Initiative to raise all donations to nonprofits that aim to end mass and excessive punishment, challenge racist and economic injustices, and provide basic services protect human rights.
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"I'm excited about creating opportunities for black teenagers at grassroots level, especially tennis and education," said Williams, who learned the game from her father Richard in public courts near her parents' home in Compton, California. "It is important for me to give minorities, disadvantaged young people and black children the opportunity to play sports and get training - just as I was given these opportunities." This in turn gives them the opportunity to be excellent. "
Williams attributes her mother Oracene Price to having inspired her on and off the square.
"During my career, my mother challenged me to pursue my creative side," says Williams. "Your support and encouragement made me recognize my love of fashion and design and graduate in these areas."
Despite a changing tournament schedule, Williams has a lot to do between V Starr Interiors, the design company she founded in 2002, and EleVen from Venus Williams, her lifestyle brand, which recently launched an environmentally conscious skin care line in collaboration with the cosmetics brand.
"I am incredibly happy to have someone like her in my life who urges me to be better than my best self," Williams says. "That's what EleVen means - always working to be an 11 out of 10."
More information about Venus Williams can be found in this week's issue of PEOPLE Magazine.

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