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Open Like A Pro: For Venus Williams, It's All About Fitness, Nutrition And Fashion

With her 18th career U.S. Open appearance steadily approaching (August 29), Venus Williams is ready to add another Grand Slam title to her belt. To make this tennis tournament more memorable, American Express partnered up with the racket-swinging titan for a series of short digital video vignettes, giving fans and attendees a glimpse of what is means to be "Open Like A Pro" via the onsite U.S. Open American Express Fan Experience.

In the clips (below), the Compton-native subtly touches on various topics that go through many athletes' minds, from what to eat and fuel the body with, to what to wear for a championship match, to having a strong mindset on those repetitive training days. Aside from showcasing a personality not often seen on the court, the entrepreneur is seen wearing pieces from the Prism Collection in her very own clothing line, EleVen by Venus Williams.

VIBE had the chance to chat with the Olympic medal winning athlete (before the clips' premiere) to talk about how she prepares for a major competition, what sports have taught her about life, as well as how she overcomes the stigma of being a tennis player running a business in the fashion realm.

VIBE: You've done a bit with American Express for nearly a decade now.
Venus Williams: Yeah, I think my first time working with American Express was in 1997. I was 17 years old or was I 18? It was during that time when I was very young. I think that was the first year that I got to do a commercial, so a lot of great memories.

Definitely a very exciting time. Tell us about the newest campaign you're working with them on, "Open Like A Pro?"
Yes, it's all about preparing like a pro. As a professional athlete, there's so much that goes into your preparation. There's so much that goes on behind the scenes that people don't see. So we had a fun take on kind of what I do. We played with fashion. We played with, actually, oranges and orange juice to play on nutrition and all of that stuff. We had a lot of fun with bringing people into that full U.S. Open experience.

Let us find out you can dance! What's your favorite dance move?
(Laughs) I can actually do the wave. I feel like I didn't do it in the commercial. I'm not sure. I should've done it in the commercial.

You mentioned that this campaign also deals with fashion. Does this mean your athletic apparel line, EleVen by Venus Williams, is featured in the campaign?
Yes, and we featured what I'm wearing at this year's U.S. Open in one of the clips where I'm trying to decide what I should wear. We had some fun with that.

Dope. Now this will be your 18th U.S. Open. Are you ready? How do you even feel about that?
(Laughs) Is it 18? You're kidding? It's surreal actually. It's surreal. I'm so blessed to be able to play that many. I'm looking forward to it. I hope I can make it my best one.

Let's talk about working out. What is a typical training day like for you?
Well, I wake up in the morning, and I hit snooze (laughs), but I wake up in the morning and go immediately to the court. Depending on how far away from an event I am, I spend a couple hours on the court and then I spend a couple hours in the gym, so I spend as much time on the court as in the gym to prevent injury and to remain strong. I do cardio workouts, which could be a long distance run. It could be bikes. It could be plyometrics. It could be a swim. All of that, and, of course, focusing on [strengthening] every single part of the body, even parts that I don't know are there (laughs).

What is your favorite fitness activity outside of obviously tennis?
Does dance count?

Of course.
Definitely dancing, which can be very cardiovascular. Actually, we did dancing in the AMEX commercial. They asked what songs do you want to dance to, and we had a lot of fun. But I do adore dancing. It makes me happy. It's just one of those things that you do that's my favorite workout outside of the court.

What about nutrition? What does a pro or tennis beast like you eat? If someone wants to be a pro or a beast like you, what should he or she be eating?
I think every person is a little bit different in terms of what works for them so I never tell people eat exactly this. I would definitely say fuel your body with lots of natural foods, so not a lot of packaged things. Anything that you can buy that is naturally made. Lots of vegetables. Lots of fruits. That sort of thing. Lots of grains. Lots of fiber. All the stuff that people don't like to eat as much.

I'm always trying new things and trying to see how I can get at my maximum capacity. Most athletes do that, but I think probably even more so in my case [with overcoming Sjögren's Syndrome], definitely lots of green things to keep my body in a state where it's very calm. It [vegetables] calms your body down a lot.

In a recent interview with American Express OPEN, you talked about how you've learned a lot from sports as an athlete. What would you say is the most important lesson you've learned about life through tennis?
I've learned you can always achieve more than you thought you could. There are moments when I've walked off the court, and I'm like, 'I don't know how I won that match.' It was actually impossible, but it happened, and then you realize that you can push yourself much further than you ever thought, and you can make the impossible happen. I've also learned discipline. Definitely timing things, pushing yourself, accepting failure as a means of success. There have been multiple lessons in terms of transferring tennis to life.

As a professional tennis player, what's the most challenging thing that you have faced while building your retail business? And how did you overcome it?
The most challenging thing is people do see me as a tennis player, but I've had a lot of opportunities because I am a tennis player. And I don't mind that. You have to prove that you know what you're doing. You have to have longevity. You have to stay around. You have to do things right to stay in business, and that's not easy, and that's a choice on a daily basis, the choices you make in how to run your business and how to have a point of differentiation and how to be true to your brand, how to offer something that people want and to offer something that you love. It's all of that, and like I said, I don't mind a challenge. I love a challenge. People said I couldn't, and that motivates me more.

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VIBE Vixen's Boss Talk podcast amplifies the voices of women and she/her-identifying individuals in their respective industries as they discuss their journeys toward becoming the bosses we know today. From their demeanor and confidence and persevering through life’s pitfalls to make a name for themselves in their own way, being a boss is much more than 'just running sh*t.'

Miss Peppermint started as a staple in the New York nightlife scene, and after appearing as a contestant on the ninth season of RuPaul's Drag Race, she’s continued to make a name for herself.

Outside of the show, she's traveled the world and is hoping to release her third album, which she hints will be influenced by the '90s, R&B, and neo-soul. She's also planning on re-releasing her debut album, Hardcore Glamour, for its 10-year anniversary.

"I'll be doing a lot in New York this year for World Pride," she explains to Boss Talk's host, J'na Jefferson. Pride takes place throughout June. "The last album I dropped was 2017... I'm excited about that, I'm writing it now. It's just poems, but I'm excited."

Peppermint, who was the first openly transgender contestant on the Emmy Award-winning show, was also the first transgender woman to originate a principal role on Broadway for her role as Pythio in Head Over Heels. 


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"On paper, it shouldn't make sense... it's hard to explain what it is," she says of the musical, which combined a loose adaptation of 16th-century piece The Countess of Pembroke's Arcadia with the music of the new wave group, The Go-Go's. It closed in late-2018.

"The better way to explain it now that it's over and closed is 'a revolutionary show about dismantling the patriarchy...'" she says about Head Over Heels. "I knew that they wanted to cast a trans actor... I wanted to put as much as I could into it, and try to do our non-binary siblings well and proud... [the show] became something I really believed in."

Peppermint continues to share her love of performing all over the world and is also an activist, who aims to promote the importance of LGBTQIA representation and advancement. She has worked and supported organizations such as The Point Foundation, which aims to help LGBTQIA students attend college. 

"People are just starting to catch on that having queer voices is essential and inevitable," she says of further representation of LGBTQIA individuals in media and entertainment. She praises Pose creator Ryan Murphy for showcasing trans people of color both in front of the camera and behind-the-scenes.

"Giving [trans people] the power to speak for themselves, rather than slapping the community with stereotypes or archetypes... we're past that," she continues. "We're not in the phase where they're feeling comfortable to be who they are, but I think we're getting close."

Listen to the full episode below.

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Lotions, creams, and salves—oh my! With cannabidiol (CBD) popping up in just about every product you can imagine, the cannabis-infused beauty industry is clearly on the come-up. In fact, analysts predict that the “wellness” movement—as well as the legalization of Mary Jane across the world—will help rake in $25 billion globally in the next 10 years, according to Business Insider. That’s 15 percent of the $167 billion skincare market.

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All that said, it’s important to note that not all CBD products are created equal. Many brands cashing in on the green beauty wave use hemp seed oil, sometimes referred to as cannabis sativa seed oil, in place of CBD... which doesn’t make them any less great! Hemp seed oil is actually high in antioxidants, amino acids, and omega-3 and -6 fatty acids—all of which are for your skin.

“It’s generally viewed as a superfood and is great for adding nutritional value to your diet,” Ashley Lewis, co-founder of Fleur Marché, told Well and Good last month. “In terms of skin care, it’s known as a powerful moisturizer and skin softener that doesn’t clog pores or contribute to oily skin.”

However, when companies start marketing CBD and hemp oil as one-in-the-same, that’s when things get a bit tricky.

“The biggest issue is that hemp seed oil and CBD are two totally different compounds that come from different parts of the hemp plant, have different makeups, and different benefits,” Lewis added. “Marketing them as the same thing just isn’t accurate and does a disservice to consumers who are expecting certain benefits that they won’t get from hemp seed oil and who are often paying more for what they think is CBD.”

So if you’re looking to benefit from the perks specifically attributed to CBD, make sure you’re reading labels before buying, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Hell, ask for a product’s test results, while you’re at it. It never hurts to be sure.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way, are you ready to see what all the hype is about? For this 4/20, we rounded up a few CBD (and hemp!)-infused products to help give your self-care routine a bit of a boost. Looks like your holiday just got that much kushier. You’re welcome!

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Vivica A. Fox Explains Past Hesitance Behind 'Two Can Play That Game' Script

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