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Venus Williams Celebrates Music Icon Nina Simone For New Charity Auction

By Erik Gudris | @atntennis | Friday, May 12, 2023

In the latest edition of Paper Magazine, Venus Williams discussed her partnership with artist Adam Pendleton and their efforts to raise money through an art auction to restore the late singer Nina Simone’s childhood home in Tryon, North Carolina.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion is working with the help of fellow artists including Cecily Brown, Julie Mehretu, Rashid Johnson, and Ellen Gallagher on the iniative.

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“History is so important to me. My mom and dad were so adamant that you must know your history so that you know yourself. Because of that I knew about Nina Simone and her legacy growing up,” Williams said in the interview. “This moment is so important because her influence persists to this day, and her brilliance lives on and really transcends time and culture.

"Her legacy really has to be solidified, and made permanent and everlasting. Also, she deserves a site with those same qualities. There isn’t enough preservation of the legacies of people with brown skin, so this is very exciting to be a part of.”

Simone, born Eunice Waymon, is considered one of the greatest singer/songwriters ever.

After Simone recorded many songs that spoke to her African-American heritage, she became an outspoken member of the civil rights movement despite efforts by the entertainment industry to boycott her. 

Pendleton, along with the artists mentioned, purchased Simone’s house, which was eventually designated as a “National Treasure” by the National Trust for Historic Preservation. Pendleton eventually approached Pace Gallery, which represents him, with the opportunity to raise money to preserve the historic home. 

“My hope is that her legacy will influence the next generations to come. It’s so important for people to know about her," Williams said. "This restoration gives that opportunity and creates pathways to share insights, not only into her life, but also the realities of African American people growing up in this time.

"Primarily it’s just about honoring her and we have to do that. I hope it inspires communities and people to continue to trailblaze the path.” 


The auction will run from May 12 to 22. For more information, visit -

Photo credit: Mark Peterson/Corleve