By Adrianna Outlaw
© Natasha Peterson/Corleve
(August 16, 2010) Venus Williams will take the Polo pony for a test run at the US Open and you can purchase her new dress at the US Open. Williams, who designs her own on-court apparel for her EleVen line, is partnering with Polo Ralph Lauren for a webcast next week and for a co-branded dress that could lead to a future expanded relationship with the long-time US Open sponsor.
Venus will host a live interactive virtual tennis clinic at New York’s Sportime Tennis Center on Randall’s Island on Thursday, August 26 at 2 p.m. Eastern time. Tennis enthusiasts around the world can log in as the seven-time Grand Slam champion answers questions, demonstrates technique and offers hints and tips on how to improve your game during this live one-hour interactive clinic. The clinic will reach a global audience as it will be streamed live online exclusively at RalphLauren.com and accessible on mobile devices at m.ralphlauren.com/USOpen.
"The Legends Clinic is ground-breaking. This is a dynamic way of connecting fashion, technology and sports in a way that has never been done before," said David Lauren, Senior Vice President of Advertising, Marketing and Corporate Communications. "We are providing our customers around the world a unique experience to personally connect with one of the world’s premier tennis legends while she is engaged in her sport."
Ralph Lauren will design a limited-edition dress in partnership with Eleven, which will be worn by Venus during the Legends Clinic as well as a special limited-edition US Open polo shirt to accompany the collection. Venus will not wear the dress at the US Open, but both the Ralph Lauren designed limited-edition dress and polo shirt will be available on-site at the US Open Polo Ralph Lauren shop and online at RalphLauren.com. Additionally, the limited-edition US Open polo shirt will be exclusively available at Macy’s Herald Square in New York. Fifteen percent of sales will be donated to the Women’s Sports Foundation, dedicated to advancing the lives of girls and women through sport and physical activity.
"It is truly exciting to partner with Polo Ralph Lauren in this unique endeavor and to bring my professional expertise and personal experiences to tennis fans around the world," said Venus.
Polo Ralph Lauren, a US Open sponsor since 2005, is renewing its sponsorship of the Flushing Meadows major for another five years in a pact that represents about $8 million in value, according to a published report in SportsBusiness Journal written by Daniel Kaplan. Ralph Lauren provides apparel for US Open lines people, chair umpires and ball kids.
Polo is also partnering with Venus Williams in a deal that could lead to an expanded relationship.
"It’s kind of a get-to-know-you process, and hopefully the clinic will be high-profile enough to bring some attention for our relationship and how we do," David Lauren told SportsBusiness Journal. "This is a way to test the relationship and see how we can work together."
US Open sponsor Mercedes-Benz is paying $250,000 to sponsor the Williams-Polo webcast, according to the SportsBusiness Journal.
Venus Williams withdrew from this week's Rogers Cup citing the left knee injury that forced her out of the Western & Southern Financial Group Women's Open in Cincinnati last week. Williams has not played a match since she was upset by 82nd-ranked Bulgarian Tsvetana Pironkova in the Wimbledon quarterfinals on June 29th.
Venus said she had looked forward to playing Montreal "but the pain that I am experiencing in my knee has unfortunately not gone away."