July 15, 2017

10 Questions With… Venus Williams

Venus Williams in jeans and a white T-shirt sits on the floorShe has four Olympic golds, been listed on Forbes’s Celebrity 100 and Power Women lists, and has a successful fashion label, Eleven. But tennis great Venus Williams is on our radar these days because of her design firm, V Starr Interiors. Her first project was a Miami condo for Carlos Boozer. After, she completed hospitality projects around Florida, too. But now, the firm’s work is expanding outside Williams’s home state. The renovated Midtown Athletic Club and brand-new Hotel at Midtown Chicago opened September 21 featuring a tennis lounge and a guest suite by the V Starr team. In between practices and palettes, Williams squeezed in a conversational rally with us.

Learn More about Tennis Star Venus Williams and Her Design Passion 

Interior Design: What sparked your interest in interior design?

Venus Williams: Growing up, my mom pushed me to explore my creative side. In 1999, I enrolled in fashion school and was immediately drawn in by all types of design. Interiors have always been my favorite.

ID: Does being a professional athlete help you be a good designer?

VW: I travel a lot, so I find inspiration in all the places I visit. Plus, tennis and design have similar challenges. Things move rapidly and you need to think on your feet, whether working with a new client or facing a new opponent on the court. And there’s a shared sense of camaraderie, whether working with my V Starr Interiors team or a doubles partner.

A bedroom with a neutral palette and designs by Venus William's firm V Starr
Botaniko luxury residential development in Weston, FL. Image courtesy of V Starr Interiors.

ID: What are highlights of your spaces at the Midtown Athletic Club and the Hotel at Midtown?

VW: In the tennis lounge, there are beautiful diagonal lines and striking shades of green and blue that together create energy. The V Suite is more relaxed. The pure white bedroom is like sleeping on a cloud! I competed at the club in 1997, so working with them again in this capacity has been surreal.

ID: A recently downloaded app?

VW: Dreamdays, which allows me track how long I’ve gone without sugar—I’m up to 68 days! Although I do love the juice bar at 1 Hotel South Beach

ID: What’s a cherished artwork?

VW: A little-known fact about my sister Serena is that she is an artist. She paints great oversize abstracts that are very color-focused. One hangs in our conference room at V Starr. And I have a Henry Taylor piece in my home.

The exterior patio of a building by V Starr in Florida with art installations
SofA building in Delray Beach, FL. Image courtesy of V Starr Interiors.

ID: A favorite paint color?

VW: Benjamin Moore’s Twilight Zone 2127-10. Since it’s both elegant and sultry, it can be a feature or a complement.

ID: What do you do to relax? (If you ever do!)

VW: Play with Harry, my Havanese.

ID: What do you collect?

VW: Olympic gold medals, haha!

A hotel reception area with a wood paneled ceiling, accent wall and floors and a chandelier
The Manor Lauderdale by the Sea. Image courtesy of V Starr Interiors.

ID: Upcoming projects?

VW: Residential projects in Austin and Florida and the Waterstone Resort & Marina Boca Raton. And two projects in New York, one a residential building in Harlem, of which a percentage of the units will be affordable housing.

ID: Speaking of NY, will we see you at the U.S. Open in August?

VW: Absolutely!

The American Express Member club at the UD Open with a mural of Venus Williams
The American Express Card Member Club at the US Open 2017. Photography by Getty Images for American Express.

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