Watch the touching tribute as Venus Williams partnered with the California Lottery's #ThankATeacher campaign for a heartwarming reunion with her first-grade teacher.
WTA Staff

The month of May is Teachers' Appreciation Month in the United States, and to celebrate, Venus Williams returned to California to honor her first grade teacher.

The seven-time Grand Slam champion, in partnership with the #ThankATeacher campaign and the California Lottery, visited Mark Twain Elementary School in Lynwood, Calif. and her first-grade teacher, Judy Vellegas, who has been teaching at the school for over 30 years.

Williams was a student in Vellegas' class in 1986-87, and got the chance to meet with current students and give her a gift as a token of her appreciation.

Commenting on her old teacher, Williams said: "Ms. Vellegas, I remember I felt inspired. I felt nourished. The care that she takes with each student, you can tell that there’s love in her heart.”

Check out more from Venus' visit in the video below.

"I’ve taught many thousands of students, but I distinctly remember Venus," Vellegas told The Huffington Post. "It’s funny because as a child in my class, I remember thinking even then that I was in the presence of greatness. At six years old, she carried herself well. A sweet, bright child. No behavior problems at all.

"As she became well known for tennis, I started saving newspaper clippings. I am really proud of her. It’s a heartwarming feeling to know I was a part of her young life. Now I am her biggest fan. It’s kind of surreal."

The California Lottery created the Back to the Start series to show its appreciation for public schools and to highlight exceptional teachers across the state.