"The more powerful a woman is the better this world grows," Venus Williams tells PEOPLE

By Rose Minutaglio
March 08, 2017 10:25 AM
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Credit: EleVen

Tennis icon Venus Williams wears many hats: She’s a top athletes with seven Grand Slam titles, a fashion entrepreneur who started her own clothing line and she’s an advocate for living a healthy lifestyle.

But her favorite gig to date? Being a role model to young women.

“We have to empower each other and empower ourselves and that involves believing in yourself and betting on yourself,” Williams, 36, tells PEOPLE. “You are your best bet. Invest in you physically, emotionally financially. The more powerful a woman is, the better this world grows.”

She adds that life is “always about empowerment.”

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“Empowerment is even more on the radar with what’s been happening this year,” she says of the women’s movement that included the Women’s March in January and A Day Without a Woman strike.

“I unfortunately had to miss the march, because I was in Australia for the Open, and had to miss the pulse of being in the U.S. at that time — that would have been so great!”

Credit: EleVen

The tennis star says she was — and still is — encouraged by her parents, Oracene Price and Richard Williams, and sister, Serena Williams, to be confident.

“We were taught to make decisions and to believe in ourselves and to always have an answer,” says Williams. “It’s the attitude of, ‘The impossible is actually possible’ and, ‘Making the impossible happen is like eating breakfast.’

“That’s the childhood that I had. That was something that mom and dad instilled in me, equally. Both forces pushing [me and Serena] towards that.”

Richard, often considered the driving force behind the girls’ legendary tennis careers, suffered a stroke in July 2016.

“I still see my family only all the time!” says Venus. “We all encourage each other … When you’re young you learn all of these powerful lessons in terms of being raised. And [my parents] still foster those ideals.”

This Women’s History Month, Williams has partnered with Brawny to bring the themes she was raised on — confidence, inner beauty and strength — to the public. And starting this month, the iconic Brawny Man will be replaced with an image of a woman.

“Having a female on the packaging, it’s just like, ‘Yes!’ ” says Williams. “[Showing] the image of a woman with power and resilience is great. And showing that strength and resilience, which is what I’ve had to do as an athlete, what I’ve had to do to live my dreams, what I’ve had to do in life to face challenges … This just embodies my life.”