Venus Williams

Top 10 Greatest Hits of 2012 – Number 7

Number 7: The Launch of the EleVen by Venus Fashion Line (March, 19, 2012)

Fashion design has been a passion of mine for years and wearing my own creations has become part of my identity as a professional athlete. I have always had strong opinions about sportswear (I hate neon) and I’ve let them be known through what I’ve designed and worn on the court. But it was always for me. I’ve always made whatever I’ve wanted to wear, whatever has fit my mood and style at the time. I used fringe, I used crystals, I’ve done crazy because sometimes I wanted crazy. I didn’t care. It was just me wearing it. But when I decided to create a line for the public, it turned my creative process inside out.

This was the challenge: come up with clothes that everybody will like while still remaining true to myself. Most successful companies have a certain look, a recognizable essence, to the lines they release every year, so how hard could it be?

The first designs I came up with were so boring that I couldn’t get away from them fast enough. I hated them. I would never have worn them and I never would have wanted to see anyone else wear them. I was trying too hard to be too appealing to too many people. I had to spend a lot of time figuring out who I was and how that would come out in the clothes. From then on, if a design is not who I am it hits the cutting room floor.

I had a few different principals in mind. First, I always knew my brand would be about prints. I love prints. Secondly, it had to be timeless, something you can wear for a long time. Lastly, I wanted to allow people to move in style. I want to make clothes that make you feel so good about yourself that you actually want to go to the gym. We all have those days when we don’t want to work out. (I have one almost every day and going to the gym is my whole life.) So my clothes look good on people who have a little bit of muscle, or are aspiring to have a little bit of muscle.

We introduced the collection at Miami Beach on March 19 during the Sony Ericsson Open in Miami (more on that later.) It was a huge weekend for me. After that first collection came out and people liked it, I got a lot more confident and the process started to flow a little more.

Right now I am thinking about summer 2014. Even now, sometimes I think I know what I want to do and other times I have no idea and I have to see what happens. But after that weekend I learned that I wasn’t bad, that I have a vision. I have a much better idea of who I am as a designer and what I want to say.