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Vibrant Venus lights up New York night

China Daily | Updated: 2017-03-08 07:31

 Vibrant Venus lights up New York night

Tennis superstar Venus Williams takes as much pride in her fashion as she does in her forehand. Williams showcased her EleVen by Venus collection at Madison Square Garden in New York on Monday. Reuters / AP / Getty Image File

Superstar showcases her passion for fashion at Madison Square Garden

Venus Williams autographed tennis balls while chatting with fans ahead of a low-key fashion show highlighting her spring tennis clothing line.

The EleVen by Venus collection was showcased by ball girls and ushers at the BNP Paribas Showdown at Madison Square Garden on Monday night.

"We have the opportunity to outfit everyone, and it's just a win-win," Williams said in a phone interview with Associated Press.

Showdown founder Jerry Solomon and Williams decided to showcase her active wear, featuring vibrant berry colors and low-key classic black and white.

Vince Camuto sportswear outfitted the male staffers at the 10th anniversary of the event on World Tennis Day.

"We have always been more than a night of tennis," Solomon said.

At the Garden, Williams was set to face French Open champion Garbine Muguruza in an exhibition dubbed "The Americas versus The World".

Williams was paired with Juan Martin del Potro in doubles against Muguruza and Kei Nishikori.

Andy Roddick was set to face Lleyton Hewitt, while Jack Sock was to meet Nick Kyrgios.

Here are some things to know about Williams, who frequently travels with her gray Havanese dog Harold, enjoys singing karaoke and looks forward to the French Open, where she'll extend her record as all-time leader in Grand Slam appearances to 74:

Off court

Venus has a busy life off the court, working toward her master's degree in interior architecture for her VStarr Interiors company and as part-owner of the NFL's Miami Dolphins with her younger sister Serena.

She relaunched EleVen in 2012 after dealing with distribution issues during the recession. Paragon Sports in New York, which hosted the fashion show, and other stores and tennis clubs will sell her line of tennis, yoga and active wear throughout the year.

"I'm fully on the case, my hands are all involved in design," said Williams, who earned a degree in fashion design at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale.

"That's what makes EleVen very EleVen, it has my point of view."

She said the tricky part is coming up with a new selection of hues.

"It feels like you've used every color already," she laughed.

"Let's try to find a color that people like to wear that we haven't used already."

Veteran smarts

Williams needed all the savvy of a 36-year-old veteran to reach the Australian Open final in January, competing for the title for the first time in 14 years.

She lost to Serena, but the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion seems to especially savor those moments.

"It was great; I played against a lot of players who were very worthy of being in that final," Venus said.

Now ranked No 13, she's playing this week at Indian Wells, California, followed by the Miami Open near her home in Palm Beach Gardens, Florida.

She's experienced the roller coaster of fatigue with Sjogren's syndrome, diagnosed in 2011. After the Australian Open, she lost in the first round of the St. Petersburg Open and acknowledged she wasn't feeling her best.

Right coach

All the while, she's maintained a steady decade-plus coaching relationship with Dave Witt.

"I think we have very similar temperaments, we're very laid back and rarely disagree," Wil-liams said.

"If it's working, don't fix it. You have to improve to be competitive. I think my mental game has improved the most, trying to be stronger mentally and physically. Just a lot more time in the gym is increasingly crucial."

Social voice

Williams has 1.66 million followers on Twitter, which features a photo of Harold, posts on keeping girls in sports and her cover story on entrepreneurship in Inc. magazine.

Williams helped bring equal prize money to the Grand Slam tournaments in 2007, urging Wimbledon to finally give athletes of both genders the same paycheck.

She's also an investor in Ellevest, which helps women with investment strategies.

Venus recently joined the #StandUp movement, saying in a video on Twitter: "I'm standing up against inequality and I am standing up for constant positive change, embetterment and for love in this world."

Aiming for 40?

Williams has talked about possibly playing in the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, when she'd be 40. Billie Jean King played until 40 and Martina Navratilova won the US Open mixed doubles title at 49.

"You have to love it, it's a lot of work," Williams said.

"If you feel like you have more to give and your heart is in it, that makes it pretty easy to get out there and keep paying the price."

Associated Press

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