WHEN ASKED, "Who are you wearing tonight?" there aren't many athletes who can reply, "Myself." That Venus Williams is a member of that select group is due partially to her sport—tennis players enjoy more creativity and freedom with few uniform requirements—but mostly because she has used her eye for style and business acumen to develop an activewear brand, EleVen by Venus Williams. "It's a really organic process where I actually sit down and sketch what I'd like to create," says the 38-year-old Williams, who holds a degree in fashion design from the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and owns the Florida-based design firm V Starr Interiors. Although largely for athletic use, the pieces from EleVen are versatile enough to be winners off the court, too, as Williams showed in an SI photo shoot in New York City in June. Now in her 24th year on the WTA Tour, the seven-time Grand Slam singles champion says traveling the world to compete in tournaments has helped her discover new colors, prints and patterns, whether it's at an antiques market in Paris or at an exhibition of emerging street artists in Madrid. "I always find it so interesting to learn the local culture and get inspired for new creations," Williams says.
These artistic (and athletic) minds take their passion for fashion to the next level, building brands and creating clothing and accessory lines that encapsulate their style
His Personal Line WHT SPACE
Collaborations with LI-NING, STANCE and THE TIE BAR
Her Personal Line SERENA
In the year since Malcolm Jenkins opened Damari Savile in Philadelphia—his custom-suit store with business partner Jay Amin—the 30-year-old Eagles safety became a Super Bowl champion. "It's been a fun learning process building our identity," he says. "The biggest challenge is lack of time." Jenkins spends the offseason training his body for the NFL and his eye for design. Sometimes that means grueling workouts; others, binge-watching '90s movies. "In New Jack City and Harlem Nights, I look at what the actors are wearing, the small details," he says. "That's how I get inspired."
"SERENA SHOWS HER STRENGTH THROUGH HER STYLE—IT'S A PERFECT COMBO OF AUTHENTIC, FEMININE AND POWERFUL."