Tennis great Venus Williams is the newest IU degree holder. It's not honorary. She earned it. http://t.co/CO8VwnHdOL pic.twitter.com/qSKPBDDZMF— IndyStar (@indystar) September 1, 2015
As most of you who follow me on Twitter know, I am not only a huge fan of the women's game, but I am also an unapologetic Venus fan. I laugh, cry and go into a state of depression if Venus is struggling or God forbid she loses a match.
The highlight of my tennis watching life was finally being able to meet Venus face to face and introduce myself as the Long Lost Williams Sister. I love Venus. Passionately and fervently.
When I woke up this morning and logged on to Twitter, I saw the above tweet it brought tears to my eyes. I shared it with friends and then I went and read the article. The article provided even more evidence that sometimes it is not what you do on the court that inspires, it is what you do off the court that becomes a true testament to who and what you are.
There were a few anecdotes from the article that accompanied the release that really made me sit up and take notice. One of those is this:
""IU East and the Women's Tennis Benefits Association have an agreement that establishes our campus as the primary provider for baccalaureate online degree completion programs for WTA players," Cruz-Uribe said. "Venus was instrumental in connecting IU East and the WTA in this highly-valued partnership, and we are very grateful for this. [emphasis mine]"
We are told every day that tennis players are notoriously selfish. We are told that many of them do not give back to the game and we are told that many of them, especially on the women's side do not get along. Throughout her whole career Venus' accomplishments both on and off the court have been compared to her sister Serena. Serena, on the other hand has always maintained that Venus is her greatest inspiration.
Many will remember Venus' stance for equal pay. Venus it seems has taken this a step further. She has been instrumental in making sure that tennis players have a second career once tennis is finished. Venus, realising that an athlete's career can be cut short, Venus went out and secured this beneficial partnership between the WTA and IU East to ensure that WTA tennis players (and now ATP tennis players) can complete their degrees, preparing them for a life beyond tennis. Rajeev Ram, an ATP player has taken up this challenge and is now doing his bachelor's degree at IU East.
For me this is an even more important venture than equal pay. It is said that you give a man a fish, you feed him for a day. Teach a man (or in this case a woman) how to fish and you feed her for life.
I do hope that at some point in time Venus will take over the helm of the WTA. It would be fitting if she did so while continuing to champion the causes of the women.
I close with these words from Venus:
"I've learned so much. It was always my dream to have a business degree, and I ended up going to art school so many times, but in the back of my head I felt like I needed the tools to be a better leader, to be a better planner, to be better at all of the things I wanted to do in my businesses because I'm so hands-on."