Venus Williams is back and she's ready to get in the game. The 7x Grand Slam winner and 4x gold medalist has been announced as the newest addition to the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) Chicago Women's Open lineup for the inaugural Chicago Tennis Festival as it makes its way back to the windy city.
Williams, a former World No. 1 tennis player, throughout her career has won 49 WTA Singles titles and 14 Grand Slam titles in Doubles, most of which were earned while playing alongside her younger sister, world champion Serena Williams. She's been playing her respective sport since her teenage days, and even at age 41 she's showing no signs of slowing down.
In addition to participating in the WTA Chicago Women's Open, Williams has also been extended a wild card to compete in the U.S. Open this year. Beyond her appearance in the local Chicago event, the Chicago Tennis Festival itself is breaking a couple barriers this year with its first Black woman Tournament Director since 1994 and a Black man, Kamau Murray, leading the only Black-produced tournaments on the WTA tour.
This is the first time the WTA tour has reached Chicago in the past two decades and the first time a WTA 250 tournament and WTA 500 tournament have been produced on the city's Southside. More representation is what encouraged Murray to make those things happen and help change the future for young aspiring tennis players through this festival as well.
“There weren’t many people who looked like me on the other side of the net growing up in tennis, on the recreational level nor the collegiate level,” he says. “That’s why I am so excited to reintroduce a sport to the Chicago public that has forever changed my life and enabled me to create a space where young people can learn tennis, grow personally and athletically, and be exposed to opportunities that they might not otherwise have access to.”
The Chicago Women’s Open will take place from Aug. 22-28.