First Venus Williams Times Blog
Wimbledon is always in fashion for Venus Williams
Wow ... it has been a quick 12 months since I was here last! So much has happened. Let's see, I graduated from Fashion Design School, launched my own clothing line, bought a new dog (Harold ... he's very cool), went to India for the first time and so much more. Sometimes the weeks seem like a blur until all of a sudden you have these moments in time where everything pauses.
Coming to Wimbledon is one of those times for me. I think it happens once my bags are packed and I am on my way to the airport. Everything slows down and I realise that I am going to a place that I've dreamt about as long as I can remember. This sensation really hasn't changed much over the years.
I'm sure part of the intrigue has to do with the uniqueness of the All England Club and how the history of our game has been preserved here. The positive feelings have also increased over the years as Wimbledon has become the home of so many fantastic memories for me and my family.
My preparation in the weeks preceding Wimbledon has not varied much in recent years. I have taken the weeks off after the French Open to spend time at home in Florida. The objective has remained the same - rest my mind and body and fine-tune my game. The ultimate goal is, of course, to ensure that I am well prepared for Wimbledon as well as for a competitive summer season that follows. I have learnt that being prepared often-times means balance.
Training is important ... but I also use this time to rest and rehab any problem areas, spend quality time with friends and family, catch up on reading, work on design sketches, check in on some of my business projects, get up to speed on the new gossip and then, before you know it, dive head-first into one of the busiest times of the year that includes Wimbledon, the Olympics, the US Open and soon thereafter the season-ending championships.
Balance for me means not too many social or business commitments and resisting the temptation to play too many tournaments. Essentially, getting myself to a point where I am well prepared to compete at the highest level during the most critical time. Balance sometimes means I have to turn down things that I would otherwise love to do, like fun trips, great social events and other opportunities. But finding balance also means that I make time to do things that interest me and keep my mind active.
So - what exactly have I been doing the last few weeks? Practice and workouts five or six days per week with my dad, hitting partner and often-times Serena. A few nice dinners with friends where we talk about life, always some good scoop and always laughs. I walked by my bookshelf the other day and saw a book that I had been promising myself I would read for years, Sphere by Michael Crichton. I finally opened it and it is an amazing suspense thriller that takes place mainly in the ocean. I mean I really haven't been able to put it down ... don't worry, I won't spoil the plot! I also caught up on my magazine reading and the fashion trades. I like reading about the current fashion trends.
Recently, I have been following designers like Blumarine (they have great prints); Pinko is a great European brand that has recently come out with some really fun collections; Ralph Lauren is a master of classics with a modern twist.
Watching the overall trends in the fashion industry provides insights for me as I continue to develop my own clothing line, EleVen by Venus Williams. At some point during my off weeks I make sure to spend time trading ideas with the EleVen design team and reviewing the latest updates. Just last week the design team came to visit me in Florida and showed me concepts for spring 2009.
The design process makes my mind spin and I really enjoy trading new ideas and creating a direction that will excite our customers. In a nutshell, EleVen targets active women who want to look great in all parts of their active lifestyles - whether they are at the gym, market or dinner. Evolving this strategy is a thrill and an extremely enjoyable part of my life.
Before heading off to London, Serena and I shot a commercial for one of our new sponsors that will begin running at the end of this summer. We did the commercial with two American football stars and it is VERY funny.
Now that I have arrived in London, I am announcing a new photography book project today. The book merges two of my favourite topics - tennis and fashion. The concept was developed with acclaimed fashion photographer Koto Bolofo, who travelled with me throughout 2005. It is a collection of photos that capture on-court images at tournaments (including an insider's look at my 2005 Wimbledon victory) and off-court photos that capture artistic/fashion-oriented themes and relevant cultural experiences.
There is a Susan Lenglen-inspired fashion shoot in Forest Hills, in Paris we did a surrealistic shoot inspired by Josephine Baker, in London we did a shoot in a home that quickly reminds you of The Great Gatsby, we did a Seventies-themed shoot in Harlem, Koto joined me on the Bosphorus Bridge in Istanbul, where the tournament organisers arranged for me to play across a net that divided the European and Asian parts of Istanbul. Since Koto had many of these great ideas, I feel like I'm allowed to say how much I really love this project.
Of course my life is not all fun and fashion. While these activities are a nice “escape”, the responsibilities of my “day job” are not ever too far away. Beyond preparing to defend my Wimbledon title, my Wimbledon commitments include supporting the All England Club and WTA by participating in important press events and other obligations.
This evening I will attend an event to promote the launch of a new WTA marketing campaign which will be hosted by Sir Richard Branson. Tomorrow, it's more practice and then a media round-table with the international press for the Wimbledon defending champion. On Saturday more practice and Sony Ericsson WTA Tour player meetings. On Sunday a press conference attended by the defending champion and, of course, more practice. Sunday afternoon and Monday will be more practice and rest and Tuesday at 1pm it is show time!
Venus Williams will be writing for Times Sport during Wimbledon. See her blog at elevenbyvenus.com
Venus Ebony Starr Williams