The athlete and entrepreneur shares what she's learned.

By Renee Cherry
August 27, 2019
Ashley Allen/Stringer/Getty Images

Venus Williams is continuing to make her mark on tennis; By competing at Louis Armstrong stadium on Monday, she just tied Martina Navratilova for the record of most Open Era U.S. Open appearances for a female player. (BTW, she made it past round one.)

Since Venus has been dominating for so long (25 years, to be exact), the world is well aware of her tennis prowess. But Venus' entrepreneurial ventures are also a major part of her life. Her dad, Richard Williams, who famously set out to coach Venus and her sister Serena in tennis, also wanted them to grow up to be entrepreneurs, according to the New York Times. Both did, and Venus' businesses include V-Starr Interiors, an interior design company, and EleVen, an activewear brand that she sports while competing. As an athlete, she's earned endorsements, including a longtime partnership with American Express that highlights her role as a small business owner. (Related: Venus Williams' New Clothing Line Was Inspired By Her Adorable Puppy)

Needless to say, Venus is an expert when it comes to tackling goals. Fortunately, she also likes to share. "I've found that the more I've learned, the more I love giving advice," she says. We took full advantage when chatting with the legend on behalf of her partnership with American Express. Below, her key takeaways from tennis, business, and life.

Identify Your Self-Care Non-Negotiables

"Self-care is a must. I don't think being busy is an excuse for not taking care of yourself. It's a little different for everyone, and you have to find what that is. I think simple things like eating healthy are important. Obviously, exercise is a lifestyle for me. It also boils down to how you think, too. Being able to have healthy thoughts and a positive sense of self is important, and is an important part of self-care that we tend to ignore. (Related: How Self-Care Is Carving a Place In the Fitness Industry)

Take First Impressions Seriously

"Starting out as a business owner, I wish I would've known that just saying 'no' or providing constructive criticism isn't hurting anyone's feelings. Sometimes when you start off a business relationship on one foot and you try to change it later on, it can be challenging. You have to start off on the right foot and be able to create a relationship where you can sometimes say 'no' and sometimes tell people 'hey this isn't the right way.'"

Dare to Set Boundaries

"I think a lot of people say, 'well it's important to have balance in life,' but I just think that life is naturally off-balance. You have to understand how to create balance within being off-balance. For me, part of that is making commitments that I can live up to. When I say 'yes' it means I can do it, when I say 'no' it just means I don't have the capacity to do so. Often I don't have a lot of time, so I have to make a little time for myself. Sometimes I have to draw a line in the sand." (Related: Phone-Life Balance Is a Thing, and You Probably Don't Have It)

Join a Supportive Community

"Starting out, my parents were definitely my mentors. They meant the world to me. With them, I have a really solid base—but if you don't have that, then you can seek out support. As you get older, you realize that there are different ways of thinking. You have to seek out not even just a mentor, but a community of like-minded people moving in the same direction."

Reframe Unrealized Goals

"I would say that the first key to staying focused is trying to find something you're interested in. Creating challenges and goals for yourself can also help you stay focused because when you reach them you feel awesome. And then when you don't, that's not a bad thing, that just means that you need to set new goals and try new strategies."

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