Tennis star Venus Williams cuts ribbon at new Roger Dean skyboxes

Tennis star Venus Williams traded in her racket and sneakers for a a multi-colored maxi dress and sparkly sandals Friday for her company’s ribbon-cutting event at Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium.

V*Starr Interiors, a West Palm Beach-based company owned by Williams, spent about $300,000 to redesign the skyboxes, which hold about 20 people.

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“I have seen the design before on the board, but there is always a special satisfaction seeing the installation because there is a lot of work that goes into it,” the longtime Palm Beach Gardens resident said about seeing the boxes in person for the first time. “We are local. I have been here over 20 years. So working with the team, working with Sonya is a real win for Palm Beach and Jupiter.”

Sonya Haffey, vice president of V*Starr Interiors, was at Williams’ side during the tours of the different rooms. Haffey said there are Miami Marlins and St. Louis Cardinals-themed boxes.

Each of the suites had neutral-colored tables and were furnished with sports pictures on all the walls. The tables were also topped with plants inside baseball planters.

“We realized we wanted to make it something that was classic that could last until the next remodel,” Williams said. “So we wanted to use colors and themes that would resonate for years to come.”

Williams and Haffey had great chemistry as they toured the rooms, laughing and taking silly photos as they chatted about the designs.

Roger Dean Chevrolet Stadium has put spring in fans’ step for 20 years

“This was a very challenging project because it was such a short time period between your summer games and spring training,” Haffey said. “We were here nights, weekends, mornings just to get it done so the opening day could stand out for everyone.”

About five years ago, Williams and her team approached Mike Bauer, the stadium’s general manager, about redoing the skyboxes.

“I didn’t know it would take five years,” Bauer said before the ribbon cutting. “(The skyboxes) look great. Very functional, very clean.”

Williams, 38, has two successful businesses on top of being a seven-time Grand Slam winner, four-time Olympic medalist and 13-time women’s doubles title winner with her sister, Serena.

Besides V*Starr, Williams also owns the fashion-forward activewear company called EleVen. The clothes have vibrant colors, funky patterns and even some mesh cut-outs.

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“I think design comes natural, but I believe it takes times sometimes to find your voice,” Williams said. “A curious designer continues to find their voice throughout because you don’t want to be stagnant. You continue to push yourself and say ‘who am I as a designer?’ and hopefully that comes out every single time in each project.”

So how does William manage to do it all? Well, she said “it’s fluid.”

“Sometimes I’m on the court and I have to return urgent emails,” she said. “It’s all seamless. It’s always on your mind.”

The event Friday was called “A Night with V*Starr” and offered a special $15 ticket package, which included entrance to the game and a Diary Tee from William’s clothing company, EleVen.

Five dollars from every package purchased will be donated to the Williams Sister Fun in support of the Yetunde Price Resource Center, an organization dedicated to helping individuals, families and children in Southern Los Angeles affected by trauma, according to Sarah Campbell, marketing and promotions manager for Roger Dean.

Another perk of the ticket packages was a select group of children ages five to 15 got to have a special meet-and-greet with Williams before the game. Williams was beaming as she signed tennis balls and chatted with the kids.

After the meet-and-greet, Williams also was supposed to throw out the first pitch before the game between the host Jupiter Hammerheads and the Dunedin Blue Jays, but decided not to.

“I have a little bit of a sore arm,” Williams said. “I was getting really nervous. People are going to think, I’m an athlete and ‘Oh yeah she is going to be able to throw well.’ But if I hit someone, it would be a nightmare.”

Williams said she puts her all into both tennis and design work.

“As a professional athlete, you are never happy. You always want that perfection,” Williams said. “Yes, I always think about tennis. Yes, I always think about design. I put my life and heart into both of them.”

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