Venus Williams talks fashion and raiding her sister’s closet

EleVen by Venus for Lane Crawford

The vision behind superstar tennis player Venus Williams’s fashion line EleVen has always been to combine glam and comfort. When she came to Hong Kong to launch her exclusive capsule collection for Lane Crawford – her debut in the Asian market – we caught up with her to chat about her line, the challenges of being a fashion designer and her Tennis game. 

How did you get started in the fashion business?

I’ve always loved design and I’ve always had unique things to say about activewear. I started the collection EleVen by Venus five years ago and now here we are in Hong Kong, at Lane Crawford and it’s the best moment.

You personally test out all the designs – what do you look for when selecting fabrics and designing the pieces?

The fabrics have to feel amazing but also perform. It has to be a mix between luxury and performance. I also like my fabrics to be light. Some people like it heavier, but I feel like it should just feel like a part of your body.

What do you think of all the new inroads made in developing smart fabrics?

There is always innovation, the world is moving so fast. It’s very important that your fabric perform and there are fabrics that are just for leisure – it’s two different worlds.

What was your design inspiration for the collection? Were you designing with a specific woman in mind?

This capsule collection is definitely for a very fashionable woman who is confident and wants to look clean and crisp but also add a little bit of excitement and mystery as well. We designed a collection of classic whites and added some pops of colour in just at the right moment, that way you can find the excitement as well.

It’s been a while since you first launched EleVen by Venus, what was the biggest challenge of creating a line?

The biggest challenge is understanding your own voice. At the beginning, especially before the first collection, it’s easy to be influenced by what everyone else is doing. But at the end of the day, you have to be you and you have to create who you are. That’s definitely what I have done over the years. Now we are just more and more EleVen, every single day is more EleVen, which is better than a ten.

It’s also been a while, 20 years in 2017, since you made your US Open Debut. Do you still remember your first match?

Of course, I remember my first match. I was so nervous I lost the first set. And then, I decided that I had to do a little bit better, so thankfully I won my first US Open match – but not without difficulty. 

How do you feel about your game this year?

My game this year is always improving, every single term. And I feel like this is what I want to work on, it never stops. Even at EleVen, we talk about how we want to be better and not the best. This is also how I feel about my game, I want to be better, best is not enough.

Apart from tennis and your fashion line, you also own an interiors company. How do you manage to balance it all?

It’s a lot but I love it. And that’s the important thing, having a love for what you do, because when you love, it’s easy to put in the work. And also, of course, I have great teams who believe in me and have the same philosophy as me, it feels like having an extension of myself.

Your sister Serena also loves fashion and designs clothes. Do you raid each other’s closets?

I think she raids my closet more than I do hers. But I did steal two pairs of shoes from her: one is silver and one is gold, all sparkles, and she never took them back. I tried hard to find some but they were sold out so I never gave them back – I’m taking great care of them. They are some Stuart Weitzman, all sparkle. You feel like when Dorothy [from the Wizard of Oz] wants to go home and she wears the red shoes—they’re like that and they’re amazing. They just never went home to her.

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