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.

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in chicago, wilson anchors duty with design

In the outskirts of Chicago, tennis – and sport – behemoth Wilson calls part of an office tower home. The space, just a stone’s throw from O’Hare Airport, is non-descript from the outside: a big, just-out-of-the-city office building, expansive parking lot, Chicago wintry winds and the red ‘Wilson’ christening the side of the top the structure, seemingly simple and corporate.

Inside, however, the space is anything but simple. And to call it corporate would only be accurate in its ability to be a functional, inspiring space. Wilson occupies five floors in the building, including the top three. The 2007 move from the building next door provided the company to make thoughtful, sustainable and modern decisions on how to utilize its new space both as a workplace and an area to encourage creative interaction by those who work there and those who visit.

Said visitors are greeted in the Wilson lobby by a vast wall that hosts black and white photos of Wilson employees, coaches, trainers, athletes and superstars. The view provides a sort of story-telling for the Wilson name over the last 100 years, since the brand launched in 1914. Images of tennis players are aplenty, their equipment and dress anchored in their era and style. There’s Lindsay Davenport rocking her mid-90s Girl Next Door look. And there’s Pete Sampras winning the Open in 2002. The expansive space beyond the wall (pictured below) displays product in a minimalist, museum-inspired way, using outside light to brighten the room and create a feeling of excitement about the possibilities of sport, and, from Wilson’s point of view, their name.

Read more about the Wilson headquarters and find out what the day in a life of a Wilsontouring team memberentails after the cut.

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