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Q&A: Venus Williams Plays the Role of Tennis Star—and Interior Designer—at the US Open

The Grand Slam champ reveals her design vision for the US Open’s American Express Card Member Club lounge.

It’s common knowledge that Venus Williams is one of the world’s great tennis players. She’s captured seven Grand Slam singles titles and is fighting for an eighth at this year’s US Open Tennis Championship, taking place August 28th through September 10th at the Billie Jean King National Tennis Center in Flushing, NY.

But fewer fans know that Williams has another talent: interior design. Her firm, V-Starr Interiors, at which she serves as CEO, has completed such projects as the Presidential Suite at the Intercontinental Miami and the residences at Botaniko, a luxury residential development in South Florida.

At this year’s Grand Slam, Williams had the opportunity to combine her two passions by designing the interiors of the American Express Card Member Club. Located next to the East Gate, and open throughout the tournament, the space is a haven for cardholders. Williams created it with a modern and fresh look, adding subtle nods to the sport she loves. Every detail from the textures on the chairs and stools to the fabric on the pillows draws inspiration from tennis rackets, balls, courts, and nets.

We sat down for a quick conversation with Williams as she prepared for her 18th US Open to talk design inspiration and dream projects.

When did you first realize your affinity for interior design?

Obviously your room as a kid—that’s where everybody starts. But now that I’m thinking about it, mine was interesting. I had lavender carpet, some floral designs, even bleached wood. It was definitely a different choice for a young person.

Was your room better than Serena’s?

Yes!

How do your world travels influence your design sensibility?

Sometimes I’ll stay strategically in a hotel because it’s new, and I want to see what they did with the design. A lot of times I’ll end up walking into a new place and saying, ‘Hey, show me a room.’ I love being inspired by what other people do. I like to feel like I’ve learned something or it opened my mind up in a different way to be creative. I do enjoy that.

How do you balance competing and your design work?

I have to trust members of my team to do their job, and I can’t look at every single detail or else I wouldn’t sleep—and I have to sleep to win matches. The team has to work together, and we have to trust each other.

I don’t get stressed. I have a great time doing it. It’s exciting when you see something come to fruition, because it’s like a win. It never gets old.

Tell us about the American Express Card Member Club. What was your inspiration for it?

It was about creating an aesthetic that fits in with New York City. It’s modern and sleek and sporty, too. My favorite items in the club are the accent chairs because they are very comfortable and very stylish.

How do you want tennis fans to spend their time in the lounge?

I would love to see them cheer me on to my win. I want to win this tournament. It’s a little selfish but I can’t help it!

What’s your dream interior design project?

When they remodel Arthur Ashe Stadium, I’ll be there.

 

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