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Tennis

Venus Williams knows what she'll wear at U.S. Open

Photo: William West/AFP/Getty Images

Venus Williams hasn't made it past the fourth round of a Grand Slam event since 2010.

You know the whole thing about a woman's prerogative to change her mind? Venus Williams can't do it - at least not when it comes to her tennis wardrobe.

She already knows that come August at the U.S. Open, she'll be wearing a black floral tennis dress, and for tournaments earlier in the summer, it'll be pink python prints. Williams wears almost exclusively her own line called EleVen, which she has helmed since 2007. Both looks are part of the fall collection, which Williams offered a preview of on Monday at a Manhattan photo studio. The spring collection that goes into stores later this month has some tie-dye prints, nautical stripes and a more painterly watercolor floral.

"When we are designing, I am narrowing down which ones I'm wearing. I have got to plan ahead. ... The retailers want to know right away which ones I'll be wearing," she says. This decisiveness works for her and her busy life, she adds. "I have to be effective with my time."

Last week, she was in South America playing in the Brazil Cup. Williams maintains a full schedule of tennis tournaments and appearances, although she did announce that she was diagnosed in 2011 with an autoimmune disease that slows her down.

Eventually, she'd like to take all of her tennis outfits - including the "grandma floral" skirt her mother made her for her first pro match when she was only 13 years old - and join them with the on-court wardrobe of her sister Serena for some sort of museum exhibit.

Williams, 32, says she absorbs trend reports and keeps her eye on the runways for ideas, but some things just don't translate to athletic clothes: the Victorian boudoir trend, for example. "Yeah, that one, with all the lace, didn't work for sport, and I'm not sure about menswear, either."

Designing EleVen has also made her more aware of what's in her closet, including a lot of white, black, green and floral prints. She steers pretty clear of purple and magenta, and it took her a while to warm up to red, orange and turquoise, but, Williams says, her collection can't be only her favorite colors and styles. "I'm loosening up."

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