Guilford College kicks off Bryan Series with tennis industry pioneers

Venus Williams discussed her life and career with moderator Katrina Adams in the opening Guilford College Bryan Series program. Photo by Julie Knight.

Noted as a school, and as land, where local African Americans were embraced during America’s tumultuous 19th century, Guilford College continued its tradition of engaging in community conversation this week.

Pioneering sports industry figures, Venus Williams and Katrina Adams, participated in the 185-year-old institution’s renowned Guilford College Bryan Series.

“I feel like I have a lot of friends out there,” Williams said early on during the Bryan Series’ 2022-2023 season opener. Prior to the nearly 90 minutes long chat with Adams, Williams cheerfully took pictures with guests, Guilford students, alum and faculty members.

The opening Guilford College Bryan Series program was a moderated conversation between Venus Williams and Katrina Adams, former President of the U.S. Tennis Association. Photo by Julie Knight.

“Getting an education makes you well-rounded. It makes you ready for the world,” said the Olympian and multiple Grand Slam titles winner.

“Education prevents you from being ‘that’ person.”

Touching on a variety of topics within sports, business and society, Adams —former president and CEO of the United States Tennis Association and chair of the US Open— effortlessly guided the conversation with the affable Williams.

In front of a packed crowd at Greensboro’s newly built Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts, Williams shared that she and her sister, Serena, were “very, very serious about winning” and among her greatest accomplishments is “being a good human.”

“The pursuit of your best self means you’ve pursued it to the best of your abilities, win lose or draw,” said Williams, providing insight on a champion’s mentality and psyche.

Asked about her efforts to foster equatable pay and gender equality, Williams responded “I’m doing what anyone should do. When it’s time, you just gotta go and do it. You just gotta do it.”

Venus Williams and Katrina Adams posed for a photo with the Guilford College Women’s Tennis Team. Photo by Julie Knight.

“Train yourself into confidence. You have to say I can. I will. I absolutely must,” Williams stated offering advice to the audience, prompted by Adams’ insightful questions.

“You have to keep it up, you have to do it everyday (train yourself into confidence),” said Williams.

Excited to get back to competing having nursed an injury over the last couple of months, the “gracious and humble” Williams plans to retire from the game on her own terms.

“It’s nice when you get to live life on your on terms. I want to finish on my on terms.”

One of the few college campuses listed by the U.S. Department of the Interior as a National Historic District and part of the National Underground Railroad Network to Freedom, Guilford College’s presentation of Williams and Adams reflects its preeminence as one of the country’s top liberal arts institutions.

Nearly 2,000 people filled the Steven Tanger Center for the Performing Arts for the opening Guilford College Bryan Series program of the season. Photo by Julie Knight.

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