Koto Bolofo: Venus Williams
Edited by Patrick Remy. Text by Koto Bolofo.
With a power serve of 129 miles per hour and countless titles to her name (including number one in the world), Venus Williams is an amazing force in the world of tennis. She stands 6’1” and possesses great reach, or “wingspan,” and a rare mental tenacity that has put many, many trophies on her mantelpiece. It was thanks to Williams’ tireless campaigning that the bizarre sexist tradition of awarding a smaller prize money to female tennis players was corrected, at least at Wimbledon and the French Open. (Amusingly, Williams herself became the first beneficiary of this amendment when she won Wimbledon in June, 2007.) Williams’ ascent to fame has been meteoric from the first. At her Grand Slam debut at the 1997 French Open, she reached the final, and although she did not win that match, her world ranking shot up from 66 to 25 in one day. By 1999, she was number three, and by 2000 she had won a gold medal for the U.S. at the Olympics--the first of two, thus far. This sense of un-stoppability has always characterized Venus Williams, and makes her gripping to watch. Now the British fashion photographer Koto Bolofo has caught some of her magic on camera, in ways that have never been seen before. Granted unrivalled access to the athlete, during both her public tournaments and many private moments, Bolofo offers here a monumental portrait of one of today’s greatest athletes.