scent memories

Venus Williams Thinks Happiness Smells Like Donuts

Happiness and success? Donuts and tennis balls. Photo-Illustration: Courtesy of Venus Williams, Getty Images

Call it the Proust effect: Memories are often triggered by smells. Scientific studies confirm that out of all the senses, smell offers the best recall. In Scent Memories, the Cut asks people about the scents they associate with different times in their lives. Next up is Venus Williams: professional athlete and entrepreneur. She’s won seven Grand Slam titles and has her own activewear clothing line, EleVen by Venus Williams. The latest collection is the Ikat collection, which “speaks loud and clear to fashion’s moment of celebrating individuality”. EleVen is upending traditions of tennis whites with “an in-your-face collection that’s confident and empowering.” The Cut spoke with Williams about her dog, tennis balls, and tacos.

My first scent memory is: Rain. Growing up in California, you can really smell the rain. When it rained, we weren’t on the court — which was very rare! So that’s probably why it’s my first scent memory.

Happiness smells like: A donut. I don’t ever get to eat them but I love them and I think about them every day. Just a wonderful, glazed donut.

Love smells like: My dog, Harry. So sometimes love smells a little bit stinky [Laughs] but he loves me and we’re literally road dogs because we travel together everywhere.

Friendship smells like: My sister [Serena] and my best friends even though they all probably smell different … so I guess the next closest thing would be tacos. I never cook, but everyone else in the family cooks. They never say no, so whenever I want it, they make tacos! [Laughs]

Vacation smells like: Home. I travel so much I don’t want a vacation, I just want to go home. I don’t take anything for granted when I’m home, so being able to pull clothes from my own closet and sit on my own couch, that’s awesome to me.

Success smells like: Tennis balls! I have that tennis ball dust all over my clothes and shoes all the time, I’m constantly dusting it off.

Sunday morning smells like: It depends on who’s at the house and who’s cooking. If it’s just me, it smells empty. But if my mom is there, it smells like coffee and whatever she’s cooking. Whatever I ask her to make, she’ll make — it’s unreal. I can be like, “Mom can I have gluten-free mac and cheese?” And she’ll make it. I’m really lucky.

Monday morning smells like: Does a snooze on an alarm have a smell? [Laughs] Usually on Mondays I’m on an airplane going to the next tournament, so it’s like that weird cabin smell.

My home smells like: Florida. Just a little bit salty, and a little sandy. I’m in the middle of moving though, so it will be interesting to see what the new house smells like.

A pleasant surprise smells like: Donuts! [Laughs] Oh my gosh, I actually think a pleasant surprise smells like the beach. Even though I live in Florida I never, ever get to go, so a beach day would be nice.

If I could have one smell on my hands forever, it would be: Oranges. I love the smell of oranges and fresh orange juice.

I smell like: Sweat! I work out 12 hours a day and I just can’t get it off of me. I think it only becomes a problem if you sit in it, so I just make sure to change my clothes often.

You can check out the new Ikat collection from EleVen by Venus Williams here. If you buy something through our links, New York may earn an affiliate commission.

Venus Williams Thinks Happiness Smells Like Donuts