Oscars weekend promises to be a busy one for Venus Williams. Not only did she co-executive produce King Richard — the Best Picture nom about her early tennis days — but she’s also presenting at the ceremony alongside her sister and co-executive producer, Serena. (Oh, and Beyoncé is reportedly performing “Be Alive” at the very tennis court the sisters practiced at as kids.) But first: a breezy, low-key dinner at Miami’s Surf Club to celebrate her partnership with Lacoste as the face of the brand’s new fashion sport silhouette.
Bustle caught up with Williams at the March 24 event, where the seven-time Grand Slam winner chatted about Lacoste, King Richard nostalgia, and that controversial Jane Campion Critics Choice Awards moment.
What are some of your favorite things about the new silhouette?
I love all the colors ... and also how it feels like a piece of you would always be in your wardrobe. Because I think sometimes if a color’s too bright, you just feel like, “OK, I can’t do this.” [The line is] very exciting and stoic at the same time.
Definitely. And is there a nostalgic element? Or in revisiting the ’90s via King Richard, were there styles and colors you loved — or hated — from the time?
It was a fun time. And those styles are back in a big way. You know? So it’s really fun to see the recycled moments, especially when those are important parts of your life and your history.
One more thing I noticed in the film was just how deliberate you were, even from a young age, about choosing which brands to work with and put your power behind. How does that carry over to today?
Yeah, I have limited time. So if I do something, I want to do it well. So that means choosing partners that you love, that you’re passionate about, that you’re in line with. It can’t just be anything and everything. I feel fortunate to be in a place in my life where I can choose.
Do certain colors make you feel more powerful on court?
On the court is quite different from what I wear off the court. On the court I wear any color. Off the court, no ... I do wear color, but it’s very strange. I don’t have any red or blue, but like when green became so popular, I was in heaven. I love green. I like to wear yellow and pink too.
Do you ever consciously think about fashion as armor, either on or off the court? There was that Critics Choice Awards moment recently — is there anything you feel most comfortable in, or you know you look amazing in, so things bounce off you easier?
Whatever you wear, you should feel good in it. If you don’t feel good, you do feel exposed. You know?
Definitely. I don’t know if you saw how many people rallied behind you online in response to that comment, about not playing against the guys. What did it feel like in the moment — and then to see the response from fans?
I’m a supporter of all women, regardless.
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.