The tennis champion shares the inspiration behind her clean sun-care line and the reason why you’ll always see her in eyeliner on the court.

By Maya Allen
May 19, 2021 @ 10:00 am
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Venus Williams
Credit: Brian Bahr/Allsport

After years of dominating on the court, tennis star Venus Williams has learned the importance of sun care. When she's out of the game, the Grand Slam champ doubles as a beauty and wellness entrepreneur. She launched her own lifestyle brand, EleVen by Venus in 2007, and has shaken up the world of skincare with innovative sun protectants that work on all skin tones. A sun serum, mineral sunscreen, and tinted lip balms with SPF 15 make up her vegan and cruelty-free collection. "I've always known the importance of sunscreen; I just didn't think it applied to me," Williams tells InStyle in the June issue. "I thought because I have darker skin, the sun would never affect me, which isn't true. I finally started applying sunscreen at the age of 35, but by that time I had over 30 years of noncompliance."

Venus Williams
Credit: Courtesy of Venus Williams

The Gold Medalist also has a game-face beauty stash she turns to before every match. "I'm in the eyeliner club, that's for sure," she says. "I love Thrive eyeliners and their mascara for some extra volume. That way, when I'm looking across the net, I've got that steely glance," she adds with a laugh. Williams admittedly wears more makeup on the court than off to look great when she's in the zone. Ahead, she shares the beauty advice she's learned from her sister Serena Williams and her favorite ways to unwind after a big win.

What's your day-to-day approach to skin care?

I'm a huge clean-beauty person. I think a lot of people forget that your skin plays a role in your overall health. It's the body's biggest organ; you have to treat it right. It's important to be sure you aren't absorbing anything that's going to be detrimental to your long-term health.

Tell me more about your love affair with sunscreen.

I've always known the importance of sunscreen; I just didn't think it applied to me. I thought because I have darker skin, the sun would never affect me, which isn't true. I finally started applying sunscreen at the age of 35, but by that time I had over 30 years of noncompliance. What woke me up was watching [my sister] Serena wear sunscreen and long sleeves in practice. It dawned on me like, 'Oh god, I have to do this too.' It was pretty sobering. The goal is for my [EleVen by Venus Williams] products to help people protect their skin from sun damage and cancer that can come from UVA and UVB rays, and to do so in a way that is also within clean-beauty standards. I wanted to create a sunscreen that works on all skin tones and doesn't just sit on top of your face and leave that white cast for everyone to see. My products, like our Unrivaled Sun Serum, really brighten and feel like second skin, which is incredible.

Venus Williams
Credit: Courtesy of Venus Williams

What are your game-face signatures?

I'm in the eyeliner club, that's for sure. I love Thrive eyeliners and their mascara for some extra volume. That way, when I'm looking across the net, I've got that steely glance. [laughs] I think I've probably worn more makeup on the court than I've done on a daily basis, which is crazy. It's kind of like you're going to work and you suit up. Even though my job is in tennis, I still want to look great and feel good.

How do you unwind after a tough match?

My favorite products to use are the Asutra Magnesium Oil Spray and Body Butter to recover for the next match and manage aches and pains. They both have magnesium, which really does help relieve sore joints. For me, self-care is just stepping it up in simple ways that are easy to sustain and make you feel amazing.

Do you and Serena share beauty products?

We definitely depend on each other for beauty advice and share pointers. She's been doing an amazing job with her makeup. I feel like I've gone in the other direction, keeping my look super natural. We have different skincare routines because I have really sensitive skin, so I tend to go very organic.

Venus Williams
Credit: MPS

Back in the '90s, you rocked all those gorgeous braided styles. Was there ever a time when you felt like your hair wasn't celebrated on the court?

Well, I was taught just to celebrate myself. When I was young, I wasn't allowed to have my hair straightened — my mom's all about natural hair, so I wore braids. I'm fortunate that's the way I grew up because African-American hair is not well understood outside of our community. I was in a locker room once and had my hair in an Afro. One of the players from Europe asked me, "How do you do that?" And I said, "It grows like this." She loved it. I didn't take offense. People just don't know. I love embracing my crazy curls.

Venus's Must-Haves

Asutra Spray Pain Away Magnesium Oil Spray

Venus Williams
Credit: Courtesy of Asutra

Asutra Melt Pain Away Revitalizing Magnesium Body Butter

Venus Williams
Credit: Courtesy of Asutra

EleVen by Venus Williams Unrivaled Sun Serum SPF 35

Venus Williams
Credit: Courtesy of Ele Ven by Venus

EleVen by Venus Williams On-the-Defense Sunscreen SPF 30

Venus Williams
Credit: Courtesy of Ele Ven by Venus

Thrive Causemetics Infinity Waterproof Eyeliner

Venus Williams
Credit: Courtesy of Thrive cosmetics

For more stories like this, pick up the June 2021 issue of InStyle, available on newsstands, on Amazon, and for digital download May 21st.