Venus Williams will make her first appearance in a Grand Slam final in eight years when she faces her sister Serena Williams in the Australian Open final on Saturday.
Her last appearance in a Grand Slam final also came against her sister, when Serena won in straight sets in the 2009 Wimbledon final. Williams’ time between finals appearances has seen her grow wiser and given her great perspective on sport, in both victory and defeat.
When asked about inspiring young women and young athletes, she spoke far more broadly about the importance of sports to people, in one of the most poignant and thoughtful quotes about the role of sport in people’s lives that you’ll see.
“What I will say about sport, I think why people love sport so much, is because you see everything in a line,” Williams said. “In that moment there is no do-over, there’s no retake, there is no voice-over. It’s triumph and disaster witnessed in real-time. This is why people live and die for sport, because you can’t fake it. You can’t. It’s either you do it or you don’t.
People relate to the champion. They also relate to the person also who didn’t win because we all have those moments in our life.
Is it an athlete’s job to inspire? Inherently what I think athletes do at a top level inspires people, but each person takes that responsibility differently.”
It’s a tremendous quote and it’s something that she’s clearly thought about. There is a sharp dichotomy between the winner and the loser, but while they end up on wildly different ends of the emotional spectrum, both are relatable to fans at the same time.