Pete Sampras announced his retirement at age 32. Steffi Graf was 30. Yet despite battling Sjogren’s Syndrome, an autoimmune disorder that causes muscle pain and fatigue, Venus Williams, now 37, remains at the top of her game. She now holds the the ninth spot in the world according to the Women's Tennis Organization—five higher than her younger sister, Serena, 37, who is seeded at 15 (even with a bun in the oven!). All the while, the tennis pro has been carefully building her brand for when she eventually hangs up her racket, launching an activewear label, EleVen, and a home line, V Starr, and using her design expertise to help with the interiors of the American Express Card Member Club at the US Open. Ahead of this year’s tournament, Williams caught up with InStyle.com to discuss the final Grand Slam event of the year, the outfit she'll be wearing to compete, and becoming an aunt.
How are you feeling about the Open?
I go in with a different mindset every year, but it’s all about confidence. That is my main goal going in.
Are you incorporating any different exercises into your routine?
I’ve been lifting more weights, but with my body type, I do not hold onto muscles, so it’s a constant battle for me—they tend to go as fast as they come. In the week leading up to the tournament, you’re maintaining what you have, not building muscle. Training in this Florida heat is a whole other factor, too. Wimbledon is not as hot in the summertime.
What’s your training schedule like this week?
I always try to contemplate whether I should rest more in the week before, but there’s a part of me that always wants to work as hard as possible. By tomorrow, I’ll be trailing off heavy weights and playing for about three hours a day. Today, we were doing plyometrics non-stop in the heat, pouring sweat. I’ll add a half-hour of stretching too, because I’m running around so much.
You and Serena both have the luxury of choosing what you wear each year. Tell me about your outfit.
It’s a very energetic print—the black and brown colors really ground it. I wanted to mimic the fall colors but put a cheery summer play on them.
Would you ever consider bringing that iconic beaded hair look back?
Probably not. We did it—it was something that was popular when we were kids. Then you grow up. I think it’s a cultural thing more than anything else. Sometimes I’ll wear regular braids.
You’re 37 years old and still in the top 10. Are you tired of people talking about your age?
I think people like writing about that—it doesn’t bother me that much. I’m quite happy with where I am in my life. But I certainly don’t mind more interesting questions!
VIDEO: How Venus Williams Aces the Open
Are you excited about becoming an aunt?
That’s the best thing in my life right now, to be honest. And it probably always will be. I’m just unreasonably excited.
Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
World domination. [Laughs] I’ve felt confident and strong and fit from playing tennis my whole life, and I want to bring that positivity to EleVen. I see it as a holistic brand about all things wellness, whether it’s traditional or non-traditional. We want to change lives through movement.
This interview has been condensed.