No Filter with Naomi Campbell has been a hit on YouTube of late as she interviews incredible stars from all over the world. I thank Naomi for this and a really interesting hour of conversation between the three. All quotes and images are credited to the No Filter show with Naomi on YouTube. SW is Serena Williams, VW is Venus Williams and of course NC is Naomi Campbell.
Here are aspects of the interview I picked up…
Naomi introduced the interview as “historic” and have “loved these two ladies since the very first time I saw them”
“The Williams sisters, Venus and Serena!”
SW – Have you been doing Venus workouts at 12 on Instagram?
NC – I’m joining the Venus workout on Thursday!
NC – I’ve known you both since the 90’s, where did we first meet?
VW – That’s a tough one
NC – I know where we went to P’diddy’s famous parties
NC – The world is missing sports and missing you both not seeing you play. What do you feel will happen when you go back to tournaments?
SW – the thing is we don’t know, we need to find out what peoples normal is. There is a ton of speculation of playing without playing with a huge audience. Even when it does go back to ‘normal’ are the seats more separated as none of us have ever been throw this
SW – I’m just as curios as you to what will happen, I’m kind of tuning in, there is a lot of things going on but no one has answers.
NC – you changed the face of tennis, you know that right, all those kids that look up to you
VW – thank you soo much
VW – I can throw that back at you as well being one of the first (in her field)
Growing up together
SW – we shared a room growing up, we had bunk beds and if I had more kids I’d want them to share
NC – is that in all aspects that you followed your sister Venus?
SW – yeah definitely but religion is another subject as you have to find your own way and love for god and something you choose to do and I still love that and follow what I believe is right.
SW – growing up with your sister you just follow their example.
First doubles title
VW – OMG, when was that 1998?
SW – Oklahoma right?
VW – Oklahoma City, so we played this tournament because you get to play this game as the sponsor was a supermarket. You put as much as you can in the basket like playing supermarket sweep.
VW – so we played because we wanted to do that we loved the gameshow. Everything that went in went to a food bank so we put in diapers and canned food. That’s why we played and we ended up winning singles and doubles.
VW – February, so over 22 years ago.
Professional at 14
NC – you were 14 going Pro, is that the youngest?
VW – roundabout, some were late 13 as well.
VW – a little girl in a big world, you have a lot of responsibility and must have the right role models around you.
VW – that’s why were still here today because of the balance
VW – you mentioned religion too and I think the best thing about it is you get a good balance on things in life and not just wrapped up in tennis.
Tell us about your parents?
NC – How did you pick up a racket?
SW – I definitely started with Venus, she’s fairly older than me.
NC – 2 years?
SW – 15 months, I was there as a kid.
SW – I think it was my dad just started us
VW – I was younger, I pushed her around in a stroller and feeding her. It was love at first sight
SW – awwwww
VW – even to this day we are very co-dependant in a good way though so we copy each other in everything that we do.
VW – At the time I played tennis and then Serena played tennis and got really really really good!
NC – Really really good, that’s an understatement!
SW – I like courtyards, you like courtyards right?
VW – No I don’t like courtyards
NC – your dad has been incredible, both your parents what they have instilled in you as teenagers, ladies and mature legendary ladies of your sport. Every since I’ve watched you you’ve had an integrity and elegance about the both of you but a peacefulness
VW – Everyone is born who and how they are but you decide how you mould yourself.
VW – Serena and I both want to look back and say ‘hey, I’m someone that can be respected and hopefully a role model for others’ and I suppose that’s its turned out and for mum and dad to be proud.
VW – I’m just happy to hold a racquet, it what Serena and I were meant to do if we had something were meant to do.
NC – you both love fashion and have fashion lines. I follow you Venus with Eleven. When did you start?
VW – I started a few years ago, it is easy and comfortable.
VW – Eleven stands being better than ten, helping women find their energy inside themselves. Im a tennis player, your a model, people who are on the front line we want them to find their best.
VW – that journey past ten to eleven you have to have goals and setbacks to get there and help people to find their inner-self, their eleven and their confidence.
S by Serena
NC – You had a big thing at fashion week and a big interview with Anna Wintour who you are good friends with a loves her tennis. Can you tell us a bit about that?
SW – It’s fun, our brand is S by Serena. Our brand is feeling good about yourself and channeling who you are and feeling good in what you put on. We have range of sizes and a diverse community at a reasonably affordable price.
NC – Venus I know you have a degree in fashion and Serena you took a course in beauty?
NC – How in all that you do did you fit this in?
SW – we went to school between winning Wimbledon and US Open. I remember Venus had a meltdown as did everyone. I think it was to do with sewing. Next day I had a meltdown and everyone had a meltdown every day as art class was soo hard
VW – The way she handled her meltdown was much different. We were in class and meant to draw this bust. The instructor kept turning and turning the bust and I look over at Serena’s paper and I see the equilavnt of a stick person. I thought omg she needs some help.
VW – next thing her and this girl get up and take a break and head to snack machine, that was her breakdown
SW – I kept saying ‘I didn’t come to art school, I came here to do fashion’ I was so mad I gave up, I deserved an F and the guy gave me a C-
VW – somehow I got C to even though I did good work!
VW – my meltdown was in the sewing, we had to thread a machine. I missed the class on how to do it as I was in a tournament. I’m trying to thread a machine under stress and I started crying
Serena hysterically laughing
SW – the school was soo hard, everyone had a meltdown
VW – It should have been a reality show
SW – I had a knee injury so I took up beauty
SW – in this time of craziness I’m always doing my nails
SW – every time I’m on social people message saying ‘who did her nails?’ it’s all me and I’m self isolating
SW – I have soo much fun with her, she forgot to nap today that’s why I was running late
NC – How is it for you Aunty Venus?
SW – Vee-vee, Aunty Vee-Vee
SW – she keeps saying, are we going to visit VeeVee
VW – I haven’t been to a grocery store or store for 4 weeks, so now were seeing each other now as we’ve gurantined for some time.
VW – she’s very smart, a superhero, much wiser, smarter than I was or Serena at that age. She’s confident, focused and determined.
VW – if she can’t do something they way she wants she gets very upset. All of us like laugh a little bit
Meghan & Harry
NC – Are you happy your girl friend has moved to America?
SW – Don’t know what you’re talking about, don’t know nothing about that (laughing)
NC – I mean they’re on the west coast
SW – Never seen her, never heard of her, don’t know her.. whistles and laughs
The name Venus
NC – how did you come to get your name Venus?
Serena eye rolls and says “oh right”
VW – Did you see that face?
NC – I saw that
VW – you don’t know what I have to deal with on a daily basis.
VW – Serena blames me for not liking tomatoes, I didn’t like tomatoes when we were kids so she blames me for not liking tomatoes.
VW – and it goes on and on, 30 years later. She wanted a courtyard house apparently and we moved in together ages ago and that’s why she said the courtyard house before as she blames me for not having a courtyard house
VW – oh my god, its like having a wife that keeps nagging at you
Serena and Venus laughing
NC – so your name Venus?
VW – oh, my mum was just a genius. It just came to her and it really suits.
SW – mom said you were going to be a star and she named her Venus and her middle name was star, can you imagine having such an amazing name?
VW – did you see the face?
SW – actually it gets better, it’s Venus Ebony Star
NC – that is the name of the stars
SW – it’s such an iconic and beautiful name
NC – Serena for me represents serenity
SW – I never understood why my mum named me Serena as I’m the least calm person but I am calm and chilled. For a while I wasn’t but now I am
NC – first thing to do when back to new normal
VW – I’ve moved my schedule for you (Naomi) second I would say see the people I haven’t been able to see.. go to the club… roof top bar would be great.
VW – In all seriousness go back on tour and play Grand Slam tennis. I miss the tournaments
NC – your schedules are tough, 11 months of the year on a road. Each city your there for 2 weeks?
SW – even ten day or three weeks sometime in that area
SW – we don’t play the whole time, we pick and chose and now were older we play the more important ones and warm-ups (before majors)
VW – It’s a privilege which we understand more now. Also even when were not on tour we have to train
SW – I think (when tennis is over) we will still train
NC – does Richard still come down?
SW – yeah he does
SW – that’s what I want to do is hang out with my dad
VW – he’s close to 80 now so were being very careful around him, he turned 78 in February.
SW – one of our sisters would be like ‘I’d have beat her, I’d have beat her’ and I’m like relax Lynn.. I mean other sister that I have…
Serena and Venus laughing
NC – you’re soo bad!
Equality & Diversity
NC – as a woman of colour, I had to speak up and I had to ask for things, what was it like then for you?
SW – one of the main things we went through and still go through is people saying this is our sport, we see no one that looks like you, that is your colour that has come into our sport and just really dominate. We don’t really like you, we’re going to play you harder, were going to do things to make it look different so we can have this opportunity, were not going to play everyone else like this but its you that there’s what were going to do.
SW – Also just having to deal with at times different sponsors that weren’t as supportive because I’m African American because I’m black basically so that is also interesting and then you know just when you are coming into a sport like tennis where historically it has been hundred and hundreds of years of people that are white and that are successful and that are doing really well and tennis is like for a lack of a better word a needed sport right so it has different types of sponsors that it’s similar to golf in a way, you can’t really play tennis and you come into tennis unless you’re really wealthy and you can afford the equipment and the clubs to go play at but Venus and I are kind of grateful to change that narrative and say like actually people who have less can do better because they want to work even harder and they want to be able to improve their situation.
SW – there was a lot of things we had to go through. You know for me I had that awful experience of being booed by the entire crowd but we also had some amazing pioneers like Althea Gibson and Arthur Ashe, Zina Garrison these are some players that came before us and Chanda Rubin even that opened soo many different doors that we were able to benefit from. It was the late 90’s so we were able to benefit from a lot of the things that they went through and you didn’t necessarily have it in the tennis world as intense as they probably did.
VW – Just to piggyback on that too is that thankfully we had parents that helped us to know who we were in this world and that you may face things that others might not face because of the colour of your skin, at the same time the great part about tennis which can be different in places like corporate America is that you can let your racket do the talking. So you get out there you win your matches and everyone wants to be friends with the winner but then you know you see a paradigm shift and I think that’s opened a lot of doors for a lot of young young women and quite frankly young men to.
Sport Commentators & Equality
NC – I’ll be watching Wimbledon and I’ll use that just because that was where I saw it. Like you know you’ll be clearly winning the two of you and the commentary would be as if you’re not and I’ll be like what are you saying? They are clearly winning this match. I find that still happens I have a friend who’s in football, we all know Lewis Hamilton you know when he’s winning an F1 race they’re speaking but they’re speaking as if he’s not and that is still something that has to change.
SW – Yeah, that is something that has to change. A lot of these commentators have, were in this world where they weren’t used to seeing people that looked like us like well and if into kind of say what you’re saying its like that we weren’t winning it was almost as if we should have won or we were supposed to win and you know, I don’t know it would be a big deal if we didn’t win or oh I knew that they weren’t going to win because they were this or they were that or she was this or she was that.
SW – I basically whenever I watch matches I just pit mute because I’ve had a lot of people, fans too text me through social media talking about how awful they are and the things that would say so I just always hit mute and just like Venus said, let my racket do the talking.
NC – That’s very good, I’ll hit mute in the future.
SW – you shouldn’t have to, you shouldn’t have to but we live in a world where a lot of things happen that shouldn’t happen.
Wanting to be Venus and Serena
NC – what would you say to any young woman out there who aspire to be a tennis player to be Venus and Serena Williams? There’s million that look up to you, including me
SW – well we look up to you, go ahead Vee
VW – I would say, let tennis work for you. Do the work for tennis and tennis will do the work for you. Its the icing on the cake if you get to the professional level. It’s not easy to do or maintain by no means impossible. Get everything out of sport. Work as hard as you can, surround yourself with people who are smart, wise, positive, have best interests at heart and want to help you get to where you need to get to. Whether you go professional or not that game will do those things, you will learn how to win, how to lose, learn how to set goals and all these things that you’ll learn and set yourself up with will be monumental so let it do that for you.
SW – Mic drop. I couldn’t put it any better and it’s true like what you do and what you learn it brings the discipline, the drive to do whatever you want to do and whether you continue in sport or not like Venus just said you have the elements and everything that you need to keep going in the world.
NC – What is the one thing that binds you together?
SW – For me, I can say for sure that tennis really binds means and us together because no one in the world on this planet I mean if you really think about it no one on this planet understands what I go through except for Venus because she’s been there and has won as many titles as I have and nobody else has that experience. So for me, it’s like a special bond. Yeah were sisters and were really close, we’ve always been really close but this is another level in a professional world outside of growing up together and being siblings just takes it to a whole other level.
SW – She’s the only person I will talk to after I lose, always! Not my husband, nobody!
NC – Do you think the tennis federations now are embracing more diversity? Do you see more diversity on the courts now?
VW – I think that by people seeing someone that looks like them playing so I’m seeing a lot of young players that are African-American become professional but you’re also seeing them play high school tennis, college too.
VW – Whether or not the Federation has embraced diversity I’m not sure. We aren’t necessarily directly involved with our federations, that’s complicated so unfortunately we don’t control that part.
Happy Hour Friday’s
NC – What do you do to stay home and safe?
VW – Working out everyday at noon on Instagram live. Dance workout on Wednesday, working out with you (Naomi) on Thursday, Motivation Monday, Tennis Tuesday, we do like happy hour on Friday or something like that
SW – oooo (at happy hour)
VW – I love a happy hour
VW – I’ll get you next Friday, we filled this week. You need your drink on ice after. I’m a world class athlete but I like a drink too.
NC – I don’t drink so a non-alcoholic mock-tail
You can watch full interview below: