Venus Williams is a fierce competitor, and, at first glance, the over-6-foot-tall tennis champion can seem pretty intimidating. But up close, sitting inside the living room of a suite she designed at the InterContinental Miami, the Olympic medalist and tennis star proves to be poised, well spoken, and surprisingly mellow, which is admirable considering the bullets on her impressive résumé: over 60 combined single and double titles, four Olympic gold medals, a successful sportswear line, EleVen, and an interior design firm, V Starr Interiors, to boot.
And, although Williams’ demeanor is guarded, it’s obvious, with her boisterous laugh and wide, winning smile, that this power woman has more than one ambitious bone in her body. We caught up with the West Palm Beach resident last night at the unveiling of her most recent project, the InterContinental Miami — where she redesigned two presidential suites, six executive suites, and the 29th floor club lounge — and talked about what she likes to do at NYFW, why she doesn’t “throw away fashion,” and why she’s seriously devoted to French fries.
What was your inspiration for designing these rooms?
“I’m inspired by the things I see around the world, but this was definitely inspired by Miami — the city, landscapes, skyscrapers, those kinds of things. You see the cooler colors and something more modern. It’s like a bit of home inside of the hotel.”
If your best friend walked in here, what’s one thing that screams your name?
“Anyone who knows me knows that I like to spice things up and change things up. So, just putting everything together — all the different textures — to make something beautiful, that’s the most part that’s me.”
Click through to read more about Williams and how her style differs from her younger sister's!
How does interior design differ from fashion design?
“It’s the same because you have to brainstorm. Sometimes, the idea comes and sometimes you have to pull it out. Sometimes I spend whole days not being able to design anything, and then for one hour I design everything in the collection. You never know when that moment of inspiration is coming and sometimes you have to be patient. You have to wait quite a few long hours into the night for inspiration, but it’s worth it. I think more than anything it’s all about making sure the best ideas come out.”
What helps the creative juices flow?
“French fries, definitely. There’s this bag of fries called HotFries from the ‘80s, and it has become my tradition, when I design, to eat HotFries. Literally, once I didn’t eat them and I couldn’t think. I got to have that extra fat, you know.”
How would you describe your fashion sense?
“It just depends on what kind of mood I’m in, but more than anything, I don’t want anything in my closet that I have to throw away in six hours. I don’t want to throw away fashion. I like to mix and match things and have a lot of fun.”
Are you more of a glamour girl or do you prefer being casual?
“I think Serena is more of a glamour girl, and I’m more of a…I’m more of something else. I’ll have to think about it.”
Your presentation for EleVen was during NYFW. Do you like going to the shows?
“I’ve been to the shows and that was fun when I went, but now I just want to go to mine. It’s hard work going to shows. I’d rather just kind of see it and run.”
Photos: Courtesy of Manny Hernandez for InterContinental Miami