She has earned 19 Grand Slam titles and three Olympic gold medals, and was a critical voice in the successful lobbying effort to win equal prize money for female players at Wimbledon and the French Open (a cause she took up from one of her mentors, Billie Jean King). Both on and off the court, Venus Williams embodies a perfect marriage of power and grace. In the singular artistry of her play, we see that beauty and brawn aren't mutually exclusive. King leads the ovation:
Venus is wonderful to watch. I've known her since she was a little kid, and she still amazes me. I sit in the box at Wimbledon and still don't believe my eyes—how much ground she can cover, how every step is huge and light and elegant at the same time. She runs like a beautiful gazelle. Her body is so long, but her wrists and ankles are tiny—she's delicate in some ways, and yet so strong.
Her wingspan is enormous. So much leverage—when she swings, the arc is gigantic, and that creates more power. She's held the record for the fastest women's serve ever. I'll say, "Venus, come up to the net and put your arms out." Then I put a racket in her right hand and say, "Okay, how can anyone get by you?" She just starts giggling. "Let's also talk about how tall you are, and how fast, and what kind of vertical jump you have. Do you realize what God gave you?"
Whenever I go to the ballet, I think of how we don't connect dance and sports in our minds as much as we should. Venus reminds me of that, too.