In Praise of Venus Williams, the Ultimate Trailblazer: The Broadsheet

August 23, 2019, 8:56 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! Saudi women get passports without male guardians’ consent, Stephanie Grisham had an unusual path to the White House, and Venus Williams gets her due. Have a wonderful weekend. 


- Shine like Venus. Do yourself a favor and kick off your weekend with this gorgeously written New York Times Magazine cover story on Venus Williams. We at The Broadsheet, like the rest of media, have spilled a lot of virtual ink over her sister Serena in recent years. And while every drop of it was well deserved, it's refreshing to see Venus get her due. 

The connection between the sisters is the core of the piece. As writer Elizabeth Weil puts it: "If you’re not deliberately looking through Serena’s glare — if you don’t hold up a prism and refract Serena’s achievement into its constituent parts — you’ll lose sight of what a star Venus is." Weil describes the sisters' father, Richard Williams as helping launch "a two-stage rocket: Venus igniting first, blasting herself up through the worst of the gravity and the grittiest friction, then separating and falling away as Serena lit up and shot into orbit alone."

And it's not just Serena whose path into the stratosphere was blazed by Venus and her refusal to cede tennis to the world of the rich and white. Writes Weil: "Venus, out front, alone, was followed by Serena, and behind her Sloane Stephens, Madison Keys, Taylor Townsend, Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff. Venus was the lead rider breaking the headwinds in the peloton, the rabbit pulling the runners behind her to world-record pace."

Venus is still playing at age 39. I love this description of her sitting at the practice court, appearing "strong but languid, weary even, the Statue of Liberty with her arm down to take a rest — right up until 0.1 seconds before she hits the ball, at which point she explodes. At 6 foot 1, with limbs that span time zones, she has self-containment that’s unexpected and beguiling, a stillness that seems to emerge not only from her muscles but also from a calm, unruffled space inside, a clarity about who she is." But she's also found more to be passionate about, including her businesses, interior design firm V Starr Interiors and active wear label EleVen. Unlike some celebrity-branded projects, she seems to be intimately involved in running both, taking work calls moments before stepping onto the court.

I'm tempted to keep quoting more from this knockout piece. But instead, I'll stop here and let you read it yourself. New York Times Magazine

Kristen Bellstrom


- You (don't) know that you're toxic. Can someone enable a toxic culture at work without realizing it? Celia Swanson, a former EVP at Walmart, writes about her own experience. She hired a Sam's Club marketing strategist who delivered what she thought were phenomenal results, but only learned more than a year later that the strategist had made most of her colleagues "feel marginalized and worthless." Here's what she learned: Harvard Business Review 

- Ticket to fly. The first set of Saudi women to be issued passports without the consent of a male guardian now have those documents in their hands. “It feels empowering yet terrifying,” 28-year-old Hayfa says. “No one from the family knows yet. I don’t know how to ease them into it." Bloomberg

- Road to the White House. How did Stephanie Grisham become a key aide to the First Lady and then White House press secretary? Her resume includes stops "that most administrations might deem troubling," including "losing a private-sector job after being accused of cheating on expense reports, a later job loss over plagiarism charges and two arrests for driving under the influence," the NYT reports. New York Times

- Danish drama. Now that U.S.-Denmark relations are suddenly contentious, the U.S. ambassador to Denmark has a harder job than usual. The person in that role is Carla Sands, a board member across California institutions and former actress who often retweets conspiracy theories about climate change and other topics. The Daily Beast

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Former White House press secretary Sarah Huckabee Sanders joins Fox News as a contributor. Lead Edge Capital's Lorrie Norrington and Sumo Logic's Sydney Carey join the board of directors at Asana. The Ringer promoted Mallory Rubin to editor-in-chief


- 66 years young. Kristalina Georgieva's nomination to head the IMF is moving forward now that the organization's executive board has recommended removing the age limit that technically blocked her from the job. No one 65 or older was permitted to be appointed to the role; Georgieva is now 66. Bloomberg 

- No me cuidan. Mexico City has seen a wave of protests over the past several weeks after a 17-year-old girl was allegedly raped by four police officers. Last week, hundreds of women chanted "No me cuidan, me violan," or, “They don’t protect me; they rape me." The officers were placed on administrative leave. Slate

- No teardrops on this guitar. You might have heard by now that Taylor Swift has said she plans to re-record her earlier work after her ownership dispute with Scooter Braun. But can she? At issue is the difference between compositions and masters, and a November 2020 date specified in Swift's Big Machine Records contract. Fortune

Today's Broadsheet was produced by Emma Hinchliffe. Share it with a friend. Looking for previous Broadsheets? Click here.


Can Jesus close the wage gap? Elle

Planned Parenthood seeks cash after bailing from Title X funding Fortune

When will Kirsten Dunst get her due? BuzzFeed

Aparna Nancherla’s comedy work diary: ‘Inspiration is like the urge to pee' New York Times


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