With 23 Grand Slam titles to her name and several thriving side businesses (including her own Eleven sportswear line and interior design firm Star), Venus Williams knows how to protect her body so she can function during busy days.
But that’s how the four-time Olympic gold medalist and longtime Floridian ran her mind throughout her long career that made the difference.
With the theatrical release and HBO Max’s release of “King Richard” biopic, the world now knows the fortitude that her father, the mother of a tennis supernova, instilled in her, since she was barely old enough to swing a racket.
“My parents were a staunch advocate of mental health — not just self-care, but initiative,” says Williams, who has a degree in fashion design from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and currently calls Jupiter Island home. “It was about realizing that the world is a beautiful place, but it is also a challenging place, and you have to prepare mentally to be able to deal with stress. I have been able to succeed in places where other people have been. [didn’t] Because I had that support from a young age.”
She also turned to the Women’s Tennis Association, which has long provided the services of a dedicated mental health team to help players thrive on and off the court.
Now she’s pushing it forward, partnering with the WTA and online counseling platform BetterHelp in an initiative that provides $2 million in free therapy to anyone who wants it.
“There are no barriers,” she says of the program. “You only need a phone or laptop and access to the Internet.”
Recognizing the psychological damage that COVID-19 has caused, Williams strongly believes that mental health is the cornerstone of a happy, healthy, and resilient life.
“Nothing can buy that,” she told Alexa. And nothing can replace it either. For me, mental health means being in a place where you have that peace of mind, that happiness, that sense of freedom, and the ability to dream big and strive for it.”
Williams, 41, says she is thrilled to help erase the stigma associated with seeking psychological help. People talk to each other about their therapists. And not just in person on social media either. I would love for this next generation to have a chance to be proactive and take care of their mental health.”