I’ve obviously been keeping up with various tennis players’ activities during quarantine, and I’ve enjoyed seeing many of them try to deal with the most “time off” they’ve ever had in their careers. Sidenote: I still maintain that Stan Wawrinka has been slowly going bonkers in lockdown in Switzerland and it’s been amazing. But Venus Williams has been surprisingly active on social media throughout the lockdown, especially considering that in recent years, she’s been less visible and more reticent about showing anything about her home life. Venus has been doing workouts and interviews on IG Live, and she’s been growing her YouTube channel with tons of new content. Turns out, she’s also using the lockdown to launch a new collaboration with her EleVen company – a sunscreen collab. She chatted with Vanity Fair about it, some highlights:
On skincare through the years: “When I was younger, I just thought I was invincible. I thought, ‘I don’t need it. I am young! I already have built-in SPF.’ Then, as I got older, I started to think, ‘Oh my god, I’m going to turn into a raisin!’” She lets out a laugh, saying that she’s learned her lesson. “I joke with my team: ‘Is it ugly? Because if it’s not ugly, I don’t have enough on.’”
The debut of her first-ever sunscreen: They were designed to be invisible even if they’re piled on. Created in collaboration with The Sunscreen Company and Credo—the clean-beauty retailer known for scrutinizing labels—the products are a fitting extension for EleVen by Venus Williams, her activewear label that uses UPF 50+ fabric. (That’s the sun-protective equivalent of SPF 50.) Zinc oxide, a mineral filter that covers the spectrum of UVA and UVB rays, is the active ingredient in the range, but the success is in avoiding the tell-tale chalky effect. Unrivaled Sun Serum, a milky formula with an SPF of 35, comes dispensed from a glass dropper and glides on, just like that. (This is the one that Williams uses on her face.) On-the-Defense Sunscreen is a sheer SPF 30 cream that rubs in easily, from head to ankle sock.
She loves natural products like Credo: “I’m a huge Credo beauty fan. Honestly, if I’m not getting anything, I just like to go on the website and look around.” She calls herself a stickler for all-natural products; with Credo, “it’s like we’re speaking the same language.” Unlike food, where ingredients aren’t always slapped onto a menu, “the one thing I can always control is what I’m putting on my body,” she says. “I can win at that one all the time.”
She’s mostly vegan: “French fries are probably my favorite vegan food, but you can’t do that every day.” She describes how “things got really weird” during the early phase of quarantine, with a glut of time and strange foods—canned cranberries one day, pie the next. She has since done a wholesale reset, pivoting to clean drinks, protein powders (she calls out Tom Brady’s formula), and plenty of greens.
She’s been working out constantly during the lockdown: “I’ve never worked out this much in my life, so hopefully when I come back on the court, I will look like She-Ra or something. Wonder Woman! [During the season,] I lose track of even who I am. I just become a tennis machine.”
Even though I was converted to the gospel of night creams and eye creams in my 20s, I’m still sort of in denial about sunscreen, because of the reason Venus said: I already have built-in SPF, in my case, it’s because of my Indian genes. I can count on one hand the number of times I’ve gotten any kind of sunburn over my whole life, but with the lockdown, I’ve been walking in the sun more and I’ve been surprised by how “tan” I’m getting and I keep seeing all of these freckles appear on my cheeks and nose. I know, I need to get a conversion to daily sunscreen. Also: Venus GLOWS. Her skin is so beautiful all the time. And I have a dream that she and Serena are both going to come out quarantine ready to WIN.
Photos courtesy of WENN, Instagram.