Grand Slam Glamour

Tennis mega-star Venus Williams launches her new EleVen by Venus Williams line of sportswear with the presentation of a capsule collection at a trio of classic garden tennis parties in Miami Beach, New York and The Hamptons and we were there with Lara Shriftman, our hostest with the mostest West Coast Lifestyle editor.

Composed of eleven core pieces, Venus drew inspiration for the initial capsule collection from the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament. The line is made in the USA and is reminiscent of classic tennis styles with an unexpected twist in the form of bold geometric patterns, which were conceived by Venus herself. The formally trained designer has upcoming collections in the works inspired by the French Open, Wimbledon and U.S. Open, which will set the stage for a lifestyle line in Summer and Fall of 2013.

The line, called EleVen because it represents being better than the best is evocative of the spirit of triumph over adversity and the name is a reminder not to impose limits,” Williams tells us. She has broken records as the first African-American to become the number-one ranked tennis player in the world and as the holder of more Olympic Gold Medals than any other woman tennis player, as we all know.

The collection speaks to Venus’ love of ready-to-wear fashion, her love of art and watercolor and her deep appreciation of her supporters. In response to this demand, the collection will soon launch with a menswear line, too. Another Venus touch can be found in the hidden handwritten messages she incorporates in each piece of the collection, offering motivational words and personal philosophies, such as “You Got ‘Em,” which I love.

For the parties I produced to successfully launch this brand to the market, even the invitations to the party demonstrated Venus’ attention to detail and thoughtfulness with each guest receiving a personalized letter from her in the mail. Guests were asked to dress dressed in their ‘tennis best’ and the staff and servers at the party were attired in pieces from the collection, that cohesively continued the theme.

Held on beautifully appointed tennis courts, guests at the events had the opportunity to hit balls with the winner of seven Grand Slam singles titles. It was an opportunity of a lifetime for any tennis fan of any ability.

The décor of the party was stunning in an all-white color palette with details such white Wilson tennis balls, racquets and ball hoppers. The black, white and tennis-ball yellow printables by design duo, Anders Ruff, punctuated the design with bespoke details.The pair, who specialize in custom party invitations and accessories created custom water bottle labels, straws, toothpick flags, and tray liners and cupcake toppers, “aced” it for these events.

Gusts came with an appetite as vegan hors d’ouvres including Seitan burgers and delicious sweet corn pancakes were served on trays lined with the printed signature design for the party… in a nod the plant-based diet Venus has adopted since her diagnosis with autoimmune disease, Sjogren’s. It was a natural fit I loved incorporating.

For dessert, mini sorbet cones and vegan mini cupcakes, along with Chocolate Coconut and Peanut Butter Good Greens Bars, tantalized. Completely vegan, these Good Greens Bars contain 100% of the daily recommended fruit and vegetable intake as well as 40 antioxidants. The bars are said to improve digestion and cognitive performance but taste like a candy bar, merging the best of both worlds. Nuts were also offered in bowls for guests lacking a sweet tooth. What’s not to “love” about that?

I also dialed in leading healthy lifestyle brand, Jamba Juice, serving Berry UpBEET™ smoothies to guests, a favorite of Williams. Known for their better-for-you beverages, Jamba Juice has grown to over 750 locations in 26 states by providing conscientious consumers a range of branded products that inspire and simplify healthy living, so it was another “hit” for the parties.

Talbott Teas, an all-natural loose leaf tea, were poured into refreshing glasses with their organic Blissful Blueberry™ tea, an artful blend of blueberries, apples, rosehips, hibiscus, black currant tea leaves and cornflower petals, said to be “steeped in style.” Then, water bottles wrapped with Venus’ secret messages that were handwritten on the inside of her clothes were also offered to guest to helo keep them hydrated on the courts.

Grey Goose, which I think is the world’s best-tasting vodka, dispatched trained mixologists to the events to prepare a signature drink to toast the tennis star.  Called The Honey Deuce Cocktail, the refreshing concoction was adorned with honeydew melon balls.

In the perfect ending to a perfect event, Venus Williams gifted each of her guests with EleVen t-shirts and autographed white Wilson tennis balls. The chic sporting events on gorgeous days, with a healthy twist, will long be remembered by Williams and our guests.

Make Talbott Teas Blissful Blueberry Tea at Home

Use 8 Talbott Teas Blissful Blueberry tea sachets to brew 1 gallon of tea

Steep the tea in hot water for 305 minutes

Cool and add ice for iced tea, or prepare ahead of time and chill.

Make the Grey Goose® Honey Deuce Cocktail at Home

1 1/4 parts Grey Goose® Vodka
Fresh squeezed lemonade
1/2 part Chambord® or premium raspberry liqueur
Crushed ice
Honeydew melon balls for garnish
Fill a chilled highball glass with crushed ice and add Grey Goose® Vodka.
Top with lemonadeto just below the rim and then add Chambord®.
Garnish with honeydew melon balls
“Serve” to your guests and you’ll be ready to lob some fun into your next summer party.


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