venus: the forever 21 of tennis

Objects on TV are nicer than they appear: We’re not going to lie — watching Venus Williams play her first-round Wimbledon match left us deflated (and no, it wasn’t the grueling workout we just finished, we’re sure); that repurposed wedding gown just did not look good on the decorated AELTC vet as she gracefully pranced around the court in a first-round clinic over Akgul Amanmuradova. The scoreline: 6,3-6-1. (Brackets: Chris has Venus dropping out in the round of 16.)

And about that lace jumpsuit with gold trim (Golden Girls meets Project Runway?): le sigh. On TV, the shorts seemed a little too billowy, especially since we’ve seen how Venus can rock a cute pair of hot pants on the Wimbledon lawns. The gold-zippered top flopped in awkward ways as she hit her groundstrokes. The sleeves seemed as though they were missing whole panels.

(At least her trends are on point, ish? Venus, on her outfit: “Jumpers are very ‘now,”‘ she explained, “as is lace.” As is gold, really. That’s the advantage to producing one-offs for match play: your design schedule is not beholden to the super-long lead time associated with retail.)

Suprisingly, it all seemed to come together in the photos snapped during the match (see below). Just a good photographer? Maybe we were glancing up at the TV at the wrong time? Anyway, it doesn’t matter, since no one can buy this stuff. Picture worth a thousand words, but zero dollars in revenue.

More photos: Check out other looks at Venus’ EleVen outfit after the cut…

players manage balancing act while prepping for nyc’s big show

Kim Clijsters threw out the first pitch after meeting the Mets team in Queens on Friday in New York. A day earlier, she was the USTA’s guest of honor at the draw ceremony (AP photo via Yahoo! Sports).

RalphLauren.com pulled out all the stops on Thursday afternoon for an event featuring Venus Williams, in which Venus took questions from online submissions from around the world in a live clinic. At the Sportime Randall’s Island tennis center in New York, Venus was on court for the first time in a public setting since her eyebrow-raising loss to Tsvetana Pironkova in the quarterfinals at Wimbledon. But instead of thwacking errors and a look of confusion, Venus was all smiles and tennis knowledge in the clinic, which was hosted by the British TV personality (and former player) Annabel Croft.

Venus, who is the no. 3 seed at the US Open and one of the favorites though she hasn’t been on tour in two months, talked fitness, forehands and gave plenty of tennis tips from her 26 years of experience on the court. The event was hosted by Ralph Lauren and Mercedes Benz, based on RL’s homepage for viewers to log in and watch live while Venus answered questions relayed by Croft. (Watch a full replay of the clinic here or click on the image after the jump.)

“It’s good for me to remember the basics when I’m about to play a big tournament,” Venus said, referring to the Open. Venus partnered with Ralph Lauren in the design of the dress she wore, a white number emblazoned with the logo of Eleven, Venus’s clothing line.

Guests were greeted with sweet mint tea, pistachio ice cream sandwiches and caramelized popcorn on the upper deck at Randall’s Island, which hosts the New York Sportimes during the World Team Tennis seasons. Male models clad in red Ralph Lauren polos dished out the goods as Venus strode through the crowd on her way to hair and make up (this was a live, online clinic, after all).

The clinic was a part of a myriad of events happening in New York this week, which all lead up to the big show at Flushing Meadows starting on Monday.

[Read more...]

eleven’s gilt sale is on — what’s next?

Alright, ladies, you finally have a chance to own a Venus Williams dress via the EleVen sale on Gilt.com. Included in this drop are the buzz-worthy dresses that we’ve seen her wear in the last two years: the Tie Dye Slip Dress (aka the can-can dress) from Miami ’10, $99; the Goddess Dress from Wimbledon ’08, $79; the Tie-Dye Halter Dress from Miami ’09, $89; and the Slit Front Dress from Melbourne ’10, $89.

Not pictured is a pink version of the beautiful Double Cross Back Dress, which appeared during Venus’ doubles play (with Serena) at Wimbledon ’09, $79.

We caught up with Venus at the Ralph Lauren Legends Clinic yesterday to ask her about the Gilt sale. She expressed excitement about seeing her designs again come to life; her team has taken a long time (and is still in the process of) replacing Steve & Barry, the now-defunct company that used to manufacture and sell her line.

And what’s the next step for Venus? She hinted at new EleVen designs appearing in future Gilt sales. For now, we’ll occupy ourselves with what’s been put out.

(screengrabs via Gilt)

dreaming about eleven? gilty as charged

Venus WIlliams moves closer to making her designs, under the EleVen brand, available to the masses. As she mentioned in an interview with Sports Illustrated earlier this summer, she’s partnering with Gilt Groupe to sell a limited run of her dresses. They go on sale tomorrow.

Nude-colored undies? No thanks: Which dresses are you hoping to see? Our top pick: that flapper dress from this year’s Wimbledon. (And perhaps she’ll surprise us with that crocheted dress that appeared in our dreams last month…)

On your mark…: The sale starts on Friday, August 27, at 9am Pacific. We hope you snag something good!

(screengrab via Gilt.com)

venus covers up, and then some

This is Dubai, after all: We are pretty sure that the “skin baring” dress that Venus Williams would’ve kept her out of defending her singles title at the Barclay’s Dubai Tennis Championships (hey, what’s this event if not without controversy?), so it was probably a smart move that she went back to the EleVen dress that she wore at the 2009 U.S. Open.

And speaking of, she again got some henna tattooing done (like how she did at this tourney last year), this time adding some ink on her left thigh.

Draw: Venus looks good for a repeat; she’ll be up against the story of the tourney, Shahar Peer, in the semis. Teenagers Victoria Azarenka and Agnieszka Radwanska will vie for the other spot in the final. ([pdf]).

More: A few images (including the tattoos) -after the cut…

pavlyuchenkova too much for venus’ tutu

Russian Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova has Venus Williams‘s number, having upset the American for the second time in two weeks, more recently in the second round of the China Open. The score: 3-6, 6-1, 6-4.

“I just tried to play as simple as I can just into the court and just make her move,” said Pavlyuchenkova of Venus at her post-match presser. “And today I just tried to do the same thing.”

Make Venus — one of the tour’s best movers — move? Kids these days can stare death in the face and not flinch one bit!

Bracketology: Anastasia next faces Wozniak, and could face Kuznetsova in the quarters. The rest of the draw is here (pdf).

Thumbs up: Many of you didn’t like Venus’ U.S. Open ’09 bowling shirt dress, but make sure to send love to her doubles outfit from that Slam, which she also wore for singles this week. Straps criss-crossed down the back of the bright pink dress, fitting for a ballerina.

(image via Getty)

venus, animal style

Venus Williams and her EleVen line continue to run around like headless chickens, showing off outfits — one prettier than the next — even after their backer, Steve & Barry, declared bankruptcy a while back.

And for the 2009 French Open, Venus follows up her Hypercolor spring dress with this abstract take on animal print, which reminds us of Matthew Williamson‘s recent collection for H&M. (If you haven’t seen the latter, click here for the tiger/butterfly dress and here for the peacock-themed goods.)

Scoreline: Venus beat former fashion great Bethanie Mattek-Sands in the first round, and faces Lucie Safarova (sigh, that once would have been a juicy contest) in the second round. Venus will likely run into Li Na in the fourth; TSF predicts that the Chinese player will take out Sharapova in the round prior — you heard it here first!

Up close: This Venus dress is the same as the one she wore from Miami through Warsaw. See some more pics of the outfit in action after the cut…

venus williams: look at the fine print

Two snaps to Venus Williams and her EleVen line for going where no other player has gone before in recent years — at least not successfully. She made good on what she told TSF back in February, bringing out a print in purples, teals, and fuschias for a spring-appropriate tennis dress. I don’t know about you, but it’s making me crave Hypercolor!

Her year so far: Venus has two titles under her belt (Mexican Open, Dubai) and made it to the semis of Miami (losing to sister Serena) and Roma (losing to Safina). On the flip side, she’s also had disappointing early-round losses to Carla Suarez Navarro (Australian Open) and Alisa Kleybanova (Madrid). All that being said, she is ranked third in the world and is also seeded third for next week’s French Open.

In the details: Once you get over the pyschedelic effects, look for the dress’s tiered skirt whose staggered layers don’t quite wrap around the entire waist; the drawstring collar; and the teals and purples of her earrings and undies. See everything after the cut…

venus: walking in serena’s swimsuit footsteps + what to expect from eleVen in 2009

venus-williams-siswimsuit09

As we wrote about earlier, Venus Williams will be participating in the BNP Paribas Showdon at MSG next month, vying for $1.2 million in prize money to be split among her, sister Serena, and Serbians Ana Ivanovic and Jelena Jankovic.

“I’m hoping for an all-Williams final,” she told the press today. She’s also looking forward to playing at the storied tennis venue for the first time since the 1999 WTA year-ending championships.

In light of tennis’ contribution in this year’s SI swimsuit issue, TSF asked Venus about her own experience posing for the magazine, back in 2005.

“I did it because Serena did it,” Venus shared. “I want to be like her.”

Serena posed in 2003 and 2004.

But in the end the fashion isn’t the higest priority. “I like tennis more than anything. I would give up all the clothes and makeup for tennis.”

Even so, gallivanting in the sand sounds like a lot of fun. Would she consider giving it another shot?

“I would do it if Serena did it.” (C’mon, Serena — take your sister up on the offer!)

And Venus will soon fly to Dubai and participate in the Barclays tourney.

The American No. 2 (second only to her sister) gave us a small taste of what to expect from her EleVen outfits for the upcoming tennis season. She’ll wear more prints, perhaps taking another cue from Serena, who did the same for the Australian Open in January.

Browse: See Venus’ SI pics here.

More info: The BNP Paribas Showdown, March 2, 2009 at Madison Square Garden in New York City. Tickets ranging from $1,000 to $50 available at ticketmaster.com. The event will be shown live on HBO (7:30 p.m. ET/4:30 p.m. PT) and will be called by Mary Carillo, Billie Jean King, and John McEnroe. This marks the first time since 1999 that the premium channel has broadcast a tennis event; they carried Wimbledon from 1975-1999.

(image by SI)