Serena Williams has a documented and storied history in the world of tennis. Widely considered the greatest tennis player to ever live – male or female. However, in this regard, she has also made her mark in another industry. Fashion.
Williams has always been a trendsetter and has paved the way for many by leading and championing the once predominantly white country club sport.
In her tennis career alone, she thrived on catsuits, skirts, one-legged spits and other unique outfits for her matches. Williams also collaborated with the late Off-White designer Virgil Abloh.
Outside of fashion and tennis, the 23-time Grand Slam winner founded Serena Ventures, a venture capital firm, and attended the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale, where she studied fashion design from 2000-2003 and then worked in fashion. Subsequently, many years later, she launched her brand S by Serena.
Ten designers from New York have been selected to help design the range at Nike for six months starting in January 2020. The collection debuted last fall.
Champagne Rose, a renowned fashion influencer who has built relationships with major brands such as Louis Vuitton, Balmain, Chanel, Dior and Balenciaga, said of the industry and Williams’ influence: “She was obviously a trailblazer for all of us. Inclusion and equality are extremely important and something I have supported for many years.
“If you look back at the fashion industry, it’s very single-minded and doesn’t do a good job of expanding the boundaries of value, and even worse, not connecting with the cultures in which those elements were created. Serena’s influence has definitely helped not only in sportswear but also in fashion in general.
The fashion industry is notorious for its racial exclusion of designers. Less than 10% of fashion designers at New York Fashion Week are black, and less than 5% of members of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, the prestigious trade group, are black.
Racial disparity in the fashion world has been well-documented and slowly discussed.
“It’s also about relationships and knowledge,” Rose said. “The problem we’ve had for a long time is that people who don’t look like them, talk like them, and act like them are reluctant to work with them.”
“Absolutely illogical. Fashion is a global thing. We draw from our experiences to express ourselves. If we leave only one group, we only get a certain form of expression. This makes no sense.
“Serena has not only been an icon and a role model, she has used her influence to create opportunities. We all have a responsibility to do that and it’s great to see her making such amazing waves in the industry.”
Rose, who attended Paris Fashion Week and the Balenciaga fashion show in May, said: “We still have a ways to go but positive steps are being taken.
In her own words, the world-class tennis player said in an interview with Vogue and her release, “I’ve never liked the word retirement.”
“Perhaps the best word to describe what I’m looking for is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m transitioning from tennis to other important things.
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