Venus Williams Says She's 'Pretty Excited' About US Open: 'This Year Is Going to Be the Real Deal'
Venus Williams is staying busy.
"Is it the summer? I have not had a lot of downtime!" the tennis superstar, 41, tells PEOPLE with a laugh. "I took one week off after Wimbledon, so that was downtime. But other than that, it's just a lot of training and the US Open is only three weeks away. I'm preparing for the Open and pretty excited about that, to be honest."
With eyes on her next big match, Williams says what she's looking forward to most is seeing fans in the stands at the Grand Slam tournament in New York, which begins Aug. 30 and runs through Sept. 12.
"Last year we played with no fans. It was like a void," she recalls of the USTA's spectator ban at the 2020 Open, due to COVID-19 concerns amid the ongoing pandemic.
"So this year is going to be the real deal because there's nothing like the US Open. I know there's a lot of great sports in New York, but there's literally nothing like the Open," the athlete adds of the event's electricity. "It's so iconic."
Before she hits the court at Billie Jean King National Tennis Center later this month, the seven-time Grand Slam singles winner says she's grateful just to be in the swing of things.
"I don't take it for granted to participate in it at this point anymore," Williams tells PEOPLE of the elite tennis tournament.
Off of the tennis court, Williams has also gotten involved with Amazon Launchpad, which showcases small businesses through the world's largest online store, was a natural fit with her own values and desire to see others succeed.
"I wanted to be involved because everything about being an entrepreneur resonates with me, and it's super exciting to see organizations such as Amazon be involved at the grassroots level and really supporting what is really the American kind of dream," she says amid the platform's inaugural Innovation Month, happening now.
In honor of the occasion, Amazon is giving away up to $100,000 through its Innovation Month Sweepstakes, offering its pool of 2021 Grant Winners the chance to be crowned the Innovator of the Year and kick their business to the next level. Celebrating "the uniqueness of start-ups," Williams encouraged shoppers to check out the contenders and cast their votes before the contest closes Aug. 20.
On a personal level, the four-time Olympic gold medalist says her interest in business began at home at a young age — and inspires her drive today.
In her own portfolio, Williams runs not one, but three businesses: EleVen, her activewear and wellness company; V Starr, her hospitality and commercial design company; and Happy Viking, her protein shake company.
"[Innovation Month] is important to me because I was always encouraged to be an entrepreneur from my family. And so this is not only encouraging and supporting the entrepreneurs of today, but letting those of tomorrow know that this is an option," she explains. "As a business owner myself, I'm a big fan of the Launchpad's mission to provide expertise and support. Because you face so many obstacles in starting from the ground up."
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