Serena Williams’ impact on fashion and culture as she heads into retirement

Serena Williams has had a documented and storied history in the world of tennis. Widely regarded as the best tennis player – potentially male or female – who ever lived. However, with this, she also made her mark in another industry. Fashion.

Williams has always been a trailblazer and paved the way for many through her resilience in mastery and excellence in a previously predominantly white country club sport.

Throughout her tennis career, she has stood out with unique outfits for her matches, including catsuits, denim skirts, one-legged gaiters and more. Williams also collaborated with the late Off-White designer Virgil Abloh.

Outside of fashion and tennis, the 23-year-old Grand Slam singles winner started a venture capital firm called Serena Ventures and had a career in fashion beginning by attending the Art Institute Of Fort Lauderdale for studying fashion design from 2000 to 2003, then several years later she launched her brand, S by Serena.

Being Nike
NKE
-sponsored athlete since 2003, Williams has had numerous collaborations with them. Three years ago, Williams envisioned and helped implement a design apprenticeship program known as the Serena Williams Design Crew, to help bring in designers from racialized communities to help design pieces for her new collection.

Ten New York designers were chosen to help design the line at Nike for six months starting in January 2020. The collection launched last fall.

Champagne Rose, a well-known fashion influencer who has forged ties with major brands such as Louis Vuitton, Balmain, Chanel, Dior and Balenciaga, said of the industry and Williams’ impact: “He’s clear that she was a pioneer for all of us. Inclusiveness and equality are extremely important and something I have supported for many years.

“If you look back at the fashion industry, it’s been very monocentric and failed to broaden the scope of its value, and even worse, fail to attribute it to the cultures where these elements are from. Serena’s influence has certainly been a huge help not only for sportswear, but for fashion in general.

The fashion industry has been notoriously exclusive of designers from racialized backgrounds. Less than 10% of fashion designers attending New York Fashion Week are black, and less than 5% of members of the Council of Fashion Designers of America, a well-known professional group, are black.

Racial disparities in the fashion world have been well documented and discussed with changes slow to come.

“It’s also about relationships and acquaintances,” Rose said. “The problem we’ve had for a long time is that people are almost reluctant to work with people who don’t look like them, talk like them, talk like them, and are from the same place as them.”

“Completely illogical. Fashion is a global thing. We draw on our experiences to express ourselves. If we only draw from a group, we only get a certain form of expression. It does not mean anything.

“Serena has managed to not only be a beacon and a role model, but has simultaneously provided opportunity using her influence. We each have a responsibility to do this and it’s great to see her making such incredible waves in the industry. .

Attending both Paris Fashion Week and the Balenciaga Fashion Event in May, Rose concluded, “We still have a way to go, but action is being taken, which is positive.

In her own words, the world-class tennis player said in her interview and statement with Vogue, “I never liked the word retirement,”

“Perhaps the best word to describe what I do is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m moving away from tennis towards other things that are important to me.

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