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Venus Williams a hit at UAlbany

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By Celia Balf and Aaron Cheris



Celia Balf/Albany Student Press Venus Williams speaks at SEFCU Arena
Venus Williams speaks at SEFCU Arena (Celia Balf / Albany Student Press)

Ranked among some of the best female athletes of all time, former-World No. 1 tennis player Venus Williams visited the University at Albany as a guest for The World Within Reach Speaker Series. Hundreds of UAlbany students filed into SEFCU Arena to hear Williams speak.

The format of the event was a question and answer session with Saben Durio, director of Communications for the Student Association.

Jarius Jemmott, president of SA, introduced Williams to the stage as the first African-American woman to be a part of the Speaker Series. The conversation started off with how Williams became the successful tennis player she is today.

“Pressure is a privilege,” she said.

Williams added that she looks forward to the pressure she endures each match. Her competitive nature fuels the fire for a passion that lies on and off the tennis court.

Williams said she is passionate about interior design and business. She aspires to receive a master’s degree in at least one of the two.

Maybe she’ll attend UAlbany, she joked.

“You gotta get some warm weather first,” she said.

The audience’s interest piqued when Williams mentioned her interest in trying out for a collegiate tennis team as a left-handed tennis player, perhaps even at UAlbany.

While younger sister Serena wasn’t in attendance, her presence was felt by her sister. “Our sibling rivalry is more or less catapulting each other,” Venus said.

Venus was very complimentary of her sister’s impact in her career. The two have won 13 Grand Slam titles in doubles.

The Williams sisters were raised in Compton, Calif. and Venus didn’t hesitate to say she didn’t know where she would be without tennis. She was kept on a short leash growing up, going to practice, school, church and occasionally the ice cream truck down the street, she said.

Williams’s impact on young female athletes is universal, but at UAlbany may be felt most by the women’s tennis team.

“She’s a very down to earth person. She looked stunning,” tennis player Chassidy King said. “It was very motivating and inspiring, especially going into our season.”

To students, Williams said her future is about “world domination,” and also to “not be afraid to dump someone.”

While Williams was a hit with the entire crowd regardless of gender, she brought out a secret admirer who admitted to have been following her and Serena for years. He wanted to know what her favorite brand of tennis ball was, and also said he couldn’t believe they were actually making eye contact.

Williams quest for domination in 2016 begins with the Australian Open in late January.

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