Venus Williams

Week 298 (29 June - 5 July 2019)

The first round of Wimbledon saw the surprise knockout of the five-time Wimbledon champion Venus Williams. Cori “Coco” Gauff, the youngest-ever qualifier for Wimbledon, entered the competition as a wild card entry but recorded a straight-sets win over her childhood idol.

Media have rightly focused their attention on the 15-year-old’s early success, comparing Gauff’s confidence to that of a young Williams, after Gauff told journalists that her goal now was to win Wimbledon. Williams, now 39, made her debut at Wimbledon in 1997 at the age of just 17, having turned pro at 14 and, throughout her career, Williams has acted as a role model for young black women, under-represented in the sport.

Following the loss to Gauff, Williams’ first reaction was not to sulk or blame mitigating factors, but to congratulate her opponent.

"I think she said, ‘Congratulations and good luck,’ and that she was super proud of me," Gauff said of the pair’s exchange at the end of the match.

“She [Gauff] did everything well today,” Williams said in her post-match press conference. “Put the ball in the court better than I did, played well, served well. Yeah, she played so well.

The sky’s the limit. It really is. I advised her to just have fun. Enjoy life. That’s all you can do.”

The start of Wimbledon also saw the launch of Williams’ new YouTube channel, which documents her incredible sporting career. It includes her relentless motivation to become a multi-Grand Slam champion, her commitment to training and laughing about her childhood hairstyle regrets.

In reference to maintaining her fitness off the court, she said that she still had to work hard at the gym, as otherwise “you’ll become a noodle and noodles get eaten!”

A behind-the-scenes YouTube account shows Williams as a very relatable and likeable sporting professional with the same desire and love of the sport that she had when she was 14. She still gets nervous like a boxer before a fight and goes into every match with “the clock reset” to win another game.

Williams stated that while she still qualifies for events, she’ll play no matter how old she is.

“Earn your way into a draw, guess what, you have the option to play… I shall choose to play as long as I like”.

Not only has Williams communicated elegantly in defeat, she has also allowed fans a first-hand look at her life through YouTube. For this support for young players and engagement with fans, Venus Williams is JTA Communicator of the Week.

Photo: Flickr