The tennis legend on her inseparable bond with Harry, how she found him, and how she's ensured his graceful aging.
Credit: Purina Pro Plan Sport

It's naturally hyperbolic when someone says they do "everything" with their dog, but Venus Williams comes closer than almost anyone to making it true. 

The seven-time Grand Slam winner and Harry, her 16-year-old Havanese, have been nearly inseparable since she bought him as a puppy in 2007. The gym? Harry's there, allowed to explore if no one else is working out. The office? Harry's there, recently learning how to nap on Williams's desk. Tennis practice? Harry's obviously there. 

"I always joke Harry's only job is to hang out with Mom, and he does that job well," Williams tells Daily Paws. "He's very serious about it."  

His constant presence even extends to places non-service dogs rarely venture, like a Spanish museum. Or an NBA All-Star Game. Williams was driving in Los Angeles when her friend wanted to go to the game. Harry was with her, and she didn't have time to take him home before heading to the Staples Center. 

"It was the toughest thing to get this little dog in, but he went to an All-Star game," she says. 

Their attachment extends to Purina Pro Plan's Monday Like a Pro Challenge, in which Williams and Harry will try to raise $150,000 for Athletes for Animals, a nonprofit that funds pet adoptions and animal-welfare programs. 

Harry's Arrival

Harry was a bit of an impulse buy. Fresh off winning Wimbledon in 2007—and fighting for equal pay—Williams spied a puppy in a window. She called her sister Serena, the most decorated tennis player of all time, who told her, "Get him. I love him already."

Right after she took him home, she was set to play another tournament. Harry went with her, beginning what would become a jet-setting lifestyle—exactly what Williams wanted. 

She'd had dogs before Harry, but she missed so much of their lives when she'd travel to tournaments. A previous pup had fallen sick while she was on tour, so she didn't think she was ready to risk heartbreak again. 

But she couldn't resist Harry, and this time her dog would go everywhere with her. He grew up on planes and in travel carriers. To this day, he doesn't stay with anyone else, save Serena and their mother. 

"Since I travel so much, it would be so sad to miss half of his life," she says. "So I don't have to miss his life, and he doesn't have to miss his life with me. We get to live that life together."

A Spoiled Dog Is a Healthy Dog

Williams says Harry remains healthy in his golden years, thanks in part to switching him to Purina Pro Plan Sport dog food. She saw improvements in his bone density and "it was like he became much younger suddenly."

She also ensures Harry gets enough exercise and fine-tunes his diet further to make sure he gets all the nutrients he needs. But Williams also focuses on a perhaps overlooked facet of healthy aging.

"I think also spending time with your dog helps them to live longer, giving them that real love and attention makes a huge difference," she says. 

Besides all the time she spends with him, Williams always hugs Harry throughout the day. If it's been an especially busy day, she'll make sure to step away from her work to love on him for a moment or two.   

"My mom always says, 'This dog is spoiled.' I like to think he's healthy because he is," she says. 

Monday Like a Pro Challenge 

The 10-week long Monday Like a Pro Challenge, led by Williams and the Pro Plan Sport team, will start when we perhaps need it most—the Monday right after daylight saving time begins. (Here's your reminder we lose an hour of sleep Sunday morning. Sorry.) It will run for 10 weeks, through May 21.

Williams and Pro Plan Sport will issue activity challenges to pet owners each week. The goal is to generate 1 million collective minutes of human-and-dog activity each week. One participant will be randomly selected and win a year's supply of Pro Plan dry dog food each week. 

Each week participants record 1 million minutes, Pro Plan will donate $15,000 to Athletes for Animals. If they hit 1 million each week, Athletes for Animals will receive $150,000 total.

Athletes for Animals, run by David and Kelly Backes, takes its donations and offers grants to shelters and other animal-welfare organizations working to find new homes for adoptable pets.

Learn more and sign up at