Venus Williams is most often seen wiping perspiration from her brow as she thunders around the court contesting championship tennis matches.
These photos show the world number six in a more reflective mood, posing for a 16-page fashion spread in the Italian edition of Marie Claire. They were taken in Miami, Florida in December last year by her friend and photographer Koto Bolofo. “I love working with Koto,” Venus told CNN in an interview for “Revealed.” “I think he’s my biggest fan and he believes in me, I’m not sure why, but he does so I’ve got to accept that,” she laughed. They planned to shoot 20 outfits in one day, a hectic schedule that included one photo that had been two years in the making. See video of the photo shoot » “I’ve got it pictured in my mind that she’s going to be playing tennis underwater,” Bolofo told CNN. When the sun finally emerged from behind a cloud, Bolofo ordered Venus into her bathers. “I’m excited it’s my first underwater tennis venture, so I feel a little nervous, but I think I’ll come through,” Venus said.
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“I want her smiling and making it look as if it’s natural and it’s not an effort,” Bolofo explained. “It’s going to be whimsical and fun. That’s the fun part of the shoot.” Fashion is an important part of Venus Williams’ life. She has her own clothing company, EleVen, which produces tennis outfits and casual clothing. She sketches ideas, but says she’s not the chief designer, by any stretch. “There are other people designing stuff. I couldn’t do it on my own,” she said, adding, “I don’t do technical drawing, I hated it in school. I refuse to do this on the computer. I’d rather just do it by hand.” Venus’ status in the ranks of the world’s top tennis players gives her a unique position to be able to market her products and she often wears them on court. Then there’s her interior design company; Venus launched V Starr Interiors while still in her early twenties. Despite her public business interests, Venus told CNN she’s not interested in seizing the spotlight for any reason other than as one of the world’s best tennis players. “Fame has never been important to me. My goals have always been to excel in tennis, and to win championships. Fame has never been my focus and I don’t really try to grow it at all,” she said. Venus’ relaxed attitude has earned her respect beyond the world of tennis. Hip hop star Wyclef Jean released a song in her honor last year called “I’m Ready.” Listen to the song » “[It’s like] when a painter is inspired,” Jean told CNN. “When I’m inspired by an individual I just write a song about them … I said her name is Venus, ruler of the universe.” Venus was thrilled. “I’ve got it on my computer, all the different instrumentals, the different versions, the different cuts. I love it,” she told CNN. Venus Williams is back on court this week at the Barclays Dubai Tennis Championships. Naturally, she’s hoping to win after a disappointing early exit from the Australian Open in January. While tennis remains her prime obsession, Venus told CNN it’s not the most important thing in her life. “I would say definitely the most important thing in my life is growing spiritually. And doing what God requires of me — that’s always a learning experience day in and day out,” she said.
Watch Venus Williams on Revealed this week at the times below: ALL TIMES GMT Wednesday, February 18: 0930, 1830 Saturday, February 21: 0830, 1900 Sunday, February 22: 0530, 1830 Monday, February 23: 0400