EleVen: A favorite little number from Venus Williams
When a perfect 10 isn’t enough, there’s EleVen.
That’s the name of tennis pro and sports style icon Venus Williams’ new “tennis lifestyle brand,” with its dresses, tops and bottoms designed to be worn on and off the court.
Williams, 32, is the winner of 21 Grand Slam titles and three Olympic gold medals and has been ranked No 1 in the world several times since she entered pro tennis in 1994 at age 14.
This summer, she’s headed back to the Olympics in London, where no doubt her outfits, as well as her game, will make headlines.
“I had a lot of fun doing designs on the court which were unprecedented for sports,” Williams said recently from London, where she was training. “But I wanted to do something that will be available to everyone that’s my vision of sportswear.”
The “Geo Star” capri leggings ($49) come in a gray-and-white geometric print inspired by Williams’ love of Hollywood Regency-style interior design. (Williams also owns the V Starr Interiors design firm, located in Jupiter, Fla.)
She earned a degree in fashion design at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale in 2007, and she first launched EleVen for the apparel chain Steve & Barry’s, which went into bankruptcy in 2008.
She went on to design some pieces for Ralph Lauren and Gilt.com.
Williams is producing the line with an L.A.-based design team and manufacturing partner.
She sketches her designs and transfers them onto a computer so they can be interpreted by the design team. After the samples are made, she tries on every piece.
“My inspiration isn’t from sports; it’s more from ready-to-wear,” Williams said.
With the Olympics and the U.S. Open coming up, this summer is the perfect time to relaunch her brand, she said.
The collection is available now at ElevenbyVenus.com and in pro shops.
She’s especially excited about the red, white and blue dress, inspired by her favorite superhero, that she has designed to wear at the Olympics.
“Since I started playing at the Olympics in 2000, I have always wanted to do a dress based on Wonder Woman. It should be interesting to wear. And hopefully, it will get me a gold medal.”
Williams will produce a limited-edition Olympics collection for EleVen, based on the dress, which will go on sale on her website next month.
Williams’ first book, “Come to Win” (2010), is filled with wisdom about how competitive spirit can help people master their professions.
But her philosophy isn’t all about winning. “It’s about what you learn from the experience,” Williams said.