Wednesday 19 September 2018

Venus Williams: 'I do not identify with the word feminist'

The tennis star says she does not like labels.

Behind the scenes with Venus Williams at the American Express US Open campaign shoot at Affirmation Arts on July 20, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for American Express)
Behind the scenes with Venus Williams at the American Express US Open campaign shoot at Affirmation Arts on July 20, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Dave Kotinsky/Getty Images for American Express)
Venus Williams arrives to the Vanity Fair Oscar Party for the 84th Annual Academy Awards at the Sunset Tower on February 26, 2012 in West Hollywood, California. AFP PHOTO / ADRIAN SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ (Photo credit should read ADRIAN SANCHEZ-GONZALEZ/AFP/Getty Images)
Professional tennis player Venus Williams attends the 2017 Lotte New York Palace Invitational at Lotte New York Palace on August 24, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for LOTTE New York Palace)
Venus Williams
Venus Williams

By Laura Harding, Press Association Senior Entertainment Correspondent

Venus Williams has said she does not identify with the word feminist.

The US tennis star and grand slam champion, 37, said she rejects any kind of label.

She told Elle UK: “I don’t like labels – though I do think as women we have much more power and opportunities in our hands than ever before.

“We truly don’t know how powerful we are. There’s nothing like a powerful woman walking into a room, her presence is like nothing else.”

Professional tennis player Venus Williams attends the 2017 Lotte New York Palace Invitational at Lotte New York Palace on August 24, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for LOTTE New York Palace)
Professional tennis player Venus Williams attends the 2017 Lotte New York Palace Invitational at Lotte New York Palace on August 24, 2017 in New York City. (Photo by Jamie McCarthy/Getty Images for LOTTE New York Palace)

She added: “For me, the conversation (around equality) was never there. There are always challenges that you have to overcome on a daily basis.

“Unfortunately, people have the tendency to want to dominate one another, but fortunately, there are people who want to build other women up. It’s up to those people who want to build to hopefully eliminate all that negativity.”

Addressing opportunities for women in sport, she said: “There are so many emerging forces, there’s been so much growth for women in sports. It’s very exciting.

“You have to be able to stand up for what you believe in and I think I’ve done a good job. I guess I don’t have too many regrets.”

Her sister Serena, who has said she is “definitely” a feminist, praised her sister in the magazine, saying: “I think Venus’s best qualities are just how incredibly strong and powerful she is – she is a true overachiever.

“She’s one of the best tennis players in the world and still always has that desire to continue to better herself.”

Serena also said she admired her sister’s ability to overcome obstacles, such as her battle with the autoimmune disease Sjogren’s syndrome, which causes debilitating joint pain.

She added: “Venus is someone who has overcome so many obstacles – from tennis to her health – and she runs two businesses. She faces obstacles every day. I think that everything she’s gone through, from age 18 to now, has shaped her to become the amazing woman she is.

“I have a lot of memories of Venus, mostly of me doing whatever she did.

“She always set an example for me. I remember playing with Venus in the yard when we were kids. It was back when we were in elementary school, and some of the other kids were picking on me.

“I was a grade younger than her and was about to defend myself, but I hadn’t even opened my mouth and she was somehow there – it was so weird.

“That’s how it’s been my whole life. Venus has been there. Protecting me.”

The full interview is in the June issue of Elle UK, which is on sale now.

Press Association

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