Tennis isn’t exactly a hobby for Venus Williams, as her 21 Grand Slam titles would attest. But the five-time singles champion at Wimbledon always has made it clear that her professional interests extend beyond the court.
In addition to being part-owner of the Miami Dolphins with sister Serena, as well as creating her own fashion line, Williams also runs V Starr Interiors, a design firm in Jupiter that she launched in 2002. It was in that capacity that the Palm Beach Gardens resident met with media Thursday at One Thousand Ocean in Boca Raton to talk shop.
The jaw-dropping condo property next to the Boca Raton Resort & Club’s Beach Club commissioned Williams and her V Starr team to design the interior of residence 401, a 6,260-square-foot space (1,289 square feet of which is patio area) that overlooks the Atlantic Ocean and the Boca Inlet. The four-bedroom, four-bath unit is one of only 12 (out of 52) still unsold at One Thousand Ocean.
“We worked with an unbelievable base; the finishes here—the flooring, the countertops, the cabinetry, the built-ins—were amazing,” Williams says. “When you have a great base, you can’t go wrong. So a lot of the inspiration came from that; we didn’t want to outshine the elements already here.
“We also wanted to bring the outside in—like the blues from the ocean—but still keep it clean. We want to give the owner the same feeling of relaxation and serenity inside that they have when they’re on the patio.”
Williams, who has not played a tournament since last year’s U.S. Open due to Sjogren’s syndrome, an auto-immune condition that caused her to easily fatigue, plans to return to action at this month’s Sony Ericsson Open in Key Biscayne (a title she’s won three times). She told Boca Raton magazine that her health has improved since withdrawing from the first round of the U.S. Open in August.
“It’s been a huge learning curve for me, but I understand it more and I’m working on my health every day,” she says. “I’ve made mistakes, too, but I’m getting better. Mainly rest and diet are huge for me. But I fully expect to play at the Sony.”
Williams spoke for about 15 minutes regarding the One Thousand Ocean project, her interior business and more, before attending a lavish penthouse reception. Here are some excerpts:
On residence 401: “This is all my stamp. V-Starr Interiors is me. Nothing happens that doesn’t fit in my style or what I believe in with regards to design. For me, you have to rationalize everything you do in design. You can’t just do whatever you want. It has to be functional, it has to be beautiful.”
On her business: “I have advantages because I’ve had success in other fields, but it doesn’t necessarily mean that you can do the job. Once people meet me and my team, they really see that we’re serious designers and we know what we’re talking about.”
On similarities in her approach to fashion and home design: “My style is eclectic; I don’t like to do the same thing over and over again—I like to have fun and explore. The principals of design—harmony, rhythm—are all the same. It’s just a matter of applying them.”
On being competitive in business: “I’m very competitive. There’s no such thing as not finding a way to get something done. That’s one of the models that I bring to my business. There’s always a way. It might not be the easiest way, but there’s a way. ... I’ve had to learn to stop being compulsive. I’m the kind of person who would want to design it 10 times, but sometimes the first design is the best.”