Wilsons Leather has signed tennis star Venus Williams to create her own line of leather products, which will primarily consist of apparel, for the spring and fall seasons.

As part of the three-year arrangement, Williams will act as a spokesperson for both Wilsons Leather and her soon-to-be-designed Venus Williams Collection. The new Venus Collection, which Williams will help to design and promote, is expected to be in Wilsons' stores by fall 2001.

Currently ranked No 3 in the world, Williams had a remarkable year in 2000, winning Wimbledon, the US Open and Olympic gold medals in both singles and doubles. Sports Illustrated magazine named her Sportswoman of the Year 2000.

"Unlike many other athletes who simply lend their name to a company, Venus is using her creativity and fashion school background to actively work with Wilsons' buying and design teams to create the Venus Collection," said Joel Waller, chief executive officer of Wilsons Leather.

"I'm excited about teaming up with Wilsons Leather to create my own line, as fashion design has been an area of interest I wanted to pursue," Williams said. "Working with Wilsons' top designers to create a Venus Collection is going to be a wonderful experience."

Williams currently attends the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

As of November 25, 2000, Wilsons Leather operated 586 retail stores in 44 states, Canada, and England including 479 mall stores, 77 outlet stores and 30 airport locations. In addition, the company operates 38 premium travel products and accessories stores in four states and Guam under the El Portal and California Luggage Outlet names. The company's e-commerce site at www.wilsonsleather.com offers leather product information as well as company background and financial information.