Venus Williams on the Importance of SPF Lip Care and Her Favorite $15 Serum

Plus, she tells us her favorite hair color (it’s bright).

Venus Williams

@venuswilliams/Design by Cristina Cianci

Venus Williams knows a thing or two about sunscreen. Over the course of her more than 25-year career as one of the world’s top tennis players, she’s spent a lot of time winning—and sweating—on courts around the world, from Wimbeldon to the Sydney Olympics. 

So it makes perfect sense that the seven-time Grand Slam winner would make her clean beauty debut with SPF. Following last year’s debut of a mineral sunscreen and a mineral sun serum, Williams has once again teamed up with Credo to introduce the latest addition to the Eleven Beauty lineup: the Perfect Form Lip Balm SPF, a clean, vegan balm available in four shades. 

We sat down with Williams to learn more about the collection, as well as the beauty and wellness products and routines that keep her going. Read on for more.

What inspired you to launch an SPF lip balm? Can you tell me a little about the shades you chose, and why? 

I’m so excited to launch them! You know, often people overlook their lips when it comes to sun care. But they really need protection, just like the rest of the skin on our body. So I'm really hoping that the Perfect Form Tinted Balms really help people to realize the importance of protecting your lips, and of adding SPF as a staple in their lip care routines. There are lots of wonderful colors; Venus, strangely (or believably enough) is my favorite wearable red. I love how you can layer that one to be safe or bold. I don't think there's anything quite like it right now in clean beauty, so I'm super excited about it.

Elevn by Venus Lip Balm
Eleven by Venus Williams Perfect Form Tinted Lip Balm SPF 15 $19
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As an athlete, I’m sure you have a lot of experience with sunscreens. When you were formulating your sunscreens, what were the most important factors for you?

The most important factor is that I like it! If I don't like it, or if I find flaws in it, how could I expect anyone else to enjoy it? So definitely going through a really iterative process of trying, testing, and engineering the opinions of those that I value the most—which are my team and my family too. So that's really important. But also thinking about, you know, what holes are there out there in beauty right now? What are and what aren't people getting? What can we do to provide value, because there are a lot of amazing options in clean beauty, which I'm very excited about. But you know, there are some holes as well. So what can we do to help people to be well, be healthy, protect their skin and feel beautiful, and have an amazing self-care routine?

Apart from sunscreen, what does your day-to-day skincare routine look like? 

I think the most important part of a skincare routine, for me, is moisturizing. I think it prevents having to do a lot of other stuff too early, such as Botox or fillers and things like that. And moisturizing with the right products. So I love a lot of products with vitamin C, vitamin A, and antioxidants, all those different things that are great for your skin. In the moments that I can't tolerate it, I go completely natural with essential oils. I love Asutra’s Hyaluronic Acid Anti-Aging Serum ($15), and their vitamin C serum—those are staples in my skincare routine.  

Can we expect to see Eleven move into more cosmetic categories in the future? 

Well, the sky's the limit, right? I'm such a huge fan of beauty myself, so of course I would love to have our own interpretation of what that means. I literally have my own lab in my bathroom; I have full rows of essential oils. I mix them and add them to other products, and create my own special products. I also make things for other people, depending on their skin and hair needs. My latest order was rice bran oil, aloe vera oil, and prickly castor oil. And then when I was in Australia recently, I went essential oil shopping. It was really easy also to like, you know, hone in on oils that are really native to Australia. So I got the lemon myrtle, and all sorts of different eucalyptus bases. That was a lot of fun. I love to check out what’s native to where I’m traveling.

I had beaded braids several times in my childhood, inspired by you and your sister. Do you have any favorite hair looks from over the years? 

Well, my hair changes every week! So what can I say—my favorite look is ahead of me. Although I do love when my hair is pink; it's my favorite. The first time I had magenta hair was like, 2012, before it got really popular. Then, when people started doing [bright] color in their hair I was like, eh, “I’m good now.” I did have ice-pink during quarantine. I feel like myself with pink hair. So I think that’s my best look. 

Venus Williams with Pink Hair

Getty Images/Design by Cristina Cianci

Do you and Serena have beauty tips that you've swapped? Any particularly good ones you've gotten from her?

She's definitely the beauty expert, and I’ve been noticing lately how on-point her makeup is. So I've been meaning to get her to help me, like... "Do it." (laughs) And also, I've been noticing that for whatever reason, I'm not putting mine on as well anymore, and I’m like “Why? What in the world?” You know that moment when you just can't seem to get it on right, you know? And you’re like, “I thought I was good at this!” So I feel like I need, like, a refresher or a tutorial or maybe… I don't know. I just applied it so bad a couple of times, I was just like, “I’m not dealing with this anymore.” So I feel like I need to spend a Saturday just refreshing myself.

You recently had an injury at the Australian Open, which must have been really difficult. How do you work through difficult situations like that? Do you have any go-to affirmations? 

You know, the injury was devastating; I’ve still barely accepted it. I'm working daily in rehab. Which… has not been that much fun (laughs), but it's necessary. But you know, this time, I've had a lot of time to think and time to just mentally prepare for my next matches. So I've definitely taken this time to just be mentally stronger, and come out on the court even freer. So hopefully—it’s a matter of time—but hopefully I’ll play at the end of the month.

Of course you stay fit and active for a living, but do you have any other ways that you like to move outside of tennis? Things you can do now after the injury?

Oh, yeah, I can still ride my bike. And I still do core, I can still do arms; there's all kinds of stuff that I can still accomplish. So my goal is just to stay strong, so that way I don't have too much work to do elsewhere when it's time to get back on the court!

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