"SeeHer Story" Debuts Season 2 with an Episode Honoring Venus Williams
SeeHer Story airs every week on People.com and @PeopleTV social handles.
This story originally appeared on People.com by Georgia Slater.
Katie Couric Media and People are returning for a second season of SeeHer Story, a weekly digital video series created to celebrate various female trailblazers from the past 100 years to today.
Each week, the series will focus on a different extraordinary woman, beginning with this week's episode on tennis great Venus Williams.
Williams' passions for tennis started at a young age. The athlete and her younger sister, Serena, were raised in Compton, California, both honing their tennis skills while still in single digits. Williams credits her dad, Richard, for introducing the sisters to the sport and having big dreams for their careers in tennis.
"My dad is a really special kind of guy. He’s the only person I know who planned his two daughters to be number one and two in the world in tennis before they were born—and then it actually happens. Go figure, that’s pretty crazy," Williams says in the video.
After years of training, Williams went pro at only 14 years old, but her confidence was well beyond her age.
"I think I have the game to beat anyone. I’m here to play my hardest and not believe that someone’s better," the athlete said in a clip from her early years. (Related: How Venus Williams Stays at the Top of Her Game)
Williams went on to become one of the biggest names in tennis. In 2000, she won the top prize at Wimbledon and the U.S. Open and was awarded two Olympic gold medals.
While battling her competitors, though, Williams was also battling racism. In 2001, the tennis star and her father were attacked with racial insults after pulling out of a tournament in Indian Wells, California. (Related: Simone Biles Opened Up About One of Her First Experiences with Racism)
But challenges didn't stop Williams from persevering—she later became the second Black woman to be ranked No. 1 in the world, won seven Grand Slam singles titles and, along with her sister, won 14 Grand Slam doubles titles.
Not only did Williams inspire change on the court, but she worked toward equality off the court, as well.
In 2006, the athlete called out the Wimbledon organizers for paying women less than men. The following year, when she took home the title at Wimbledon, she was awarded as much prize money as Roger Federer.
She also worked through considerable pain, sharing her story of being diagnosed with the autoimmune disease Sjögren's syndrome in 2011. “I’ve had to come to accept what I’m going through, and that’s a tough stage, acceptance," she says. "It’s just been a really emotional journey."
Aside from tennis, Williams also runs her own fashion line and a design firm focused on hotel interiors. She went to school for fashion design, earning her degree in eight years. (Not to mention, she launched her own skin-care line.)
Now, she is "in charge of the whole creative process" at her company, and "nothing goes ahead" unless she's made the final call, she says. “At the end of the day, I’m very happy that I’ve been able to live my dream," Williams adds of her influential time both on and off the court.
She continues, "I’m happy that I’ve hopefully been able to represent myself in a way that is upbuilding and unembarrassing, all those things, and I don’t really need more than that.”
Williams' monumental achievements continue to be recognized in this week’s SeeHer Story Season 2 premiere, along with the stories of several other remarkable women like Simone Biles, Malala Yousafzai, and more in the episodes to come.
SeeHer Story will be a regular feature in People's print edition, the weekday morning newsletter Wake-Up Call with Katie Couric, and on PeopleTV’s entertainment show, People Now. This week's episode on Williams will correspond with a feature story in the July 6 issue of People. Unilever is sponsoring the second season of the year-long series.
"SeeHer Story celebrates the important contributions of bold women from the past 100 years who have changed our country forever,” said Couric in a statement. “We hope recognizing them and telling their stories will not only give them their due but will also inspire the next generation of leaders.”
She added, “Together with Meredith and People, I’m so excited to bring back a second season of stories of women whose names you may know—and put those whose achievements are not as well-known—front and center so we can celebrate them as well.”