“At the end of the day, you have to believe in yourself,” said U.S. women’s tennis icon Venus Williams during a Southeast Missouri State University Speakers Series event Sept. 14 at the Show Me Center.
She says success comes from “working harder” and being a little better than your competitors.
“Be your best,” she said. “You never know who is watching.”
During the evening’s event, Williams said, “I think of myself as limitless. It’s always about going further. On my tombstone, I want it to say, ‘she never peaked.'”
Williams pointed to her parents’ expectations set early on in her life as the reason she and her sister Serena have excelled on the court.
“We drank the Kool-Aid,” she joked.
Brooke Clubbs, Southeast instructor of communication studies, moderated a question-and-answer session with Williams with questions submitted by students and community members. Williams also touched on health and fitness, her challenges, her relationship with Serena and the importance of giving back to the community.
Williams, who noted she is a vegan, said she loves cross training because that variety allows her to learn from other types of athletic disciplines.
“Being healthy should always be a way of life,” she said. “It’s about maintaining a fitness journey.”
She also said that life is about balance as she discussed how she finds time to excel as an entrepreneur and clothing designer as well as a tennis player.
“You have to have a balanced life if you want to be your best,” she said.
Williams also highlighted her dismal performance at the age of 19 at the U.S. Open as a pivotal learning moment about preparation. She described her comeback after injury and illness to compete in the 2012 Olympic Games as one of her brightest moments.
Extolling the virtue of “having heart,” Williams told the crowd that finding and doing something you love is vital because that purpose “will be a huge part of your life.
“I always define success as living your dream,” she said.
Williams also discussed what she sees in her future when her tennis career comes to an end. That’s difficult to do, she said, noting she believes her calling has always been to be a tennis player.
Clubbs also asked Williams about her tightknit relationship with her sister both on and off the court. While her sister recently celebrated the birth of her first child, Serena is already talking about competing at Wimbledon next year, Williams said.
She closed by discussing the importance of service to the broader community.
“All of our callings is to give back and to be the best that we can be,” she said. “Always bet on yourself. Always believe in yourself, even when it’s not easy.”