With the good, the bad and the ugly, ‘Look of the Week’ is a regular series dedicated to unboxing the most talked about outfit in the last seven days.
The look, tailor-made for Williams by Nike and inspired by figure skating costumes, featured a subtle six-layer tutu in reference to her six US Open victories. It included a detachable black and gold sparkly train, a pair of diamond-embellished NikeCourt sneakers, a jeweled headband, and a galaxy of gemstones etched into her hair. Even her laces got the royal treatment with a set of custom gold deubre lace locks adorned with 400 hand-set diamonds from the tennis pro’s own jewelry brand, Serena Williams Jewelry.
Serena Williams reacts after winning the first set against Danka Kovinić in their first round match at the 2022 US Open on August 29 in New York. Credit: Al Bello/Getty Images
This isn’t the first time Williams has wielded the communicative power of fashion; she often used sportswear to defy industry expectations and champion black athletics. In February 2021, at the Australian Open, the tennis star wore an ’80s-inspired one-shoulder jumpsuit to pay homage to another luminary: American track star Florence Griffith Joyner. And while tennis has long been associated with pristine all-white ensembles, Williams has often reversed the script, such as in 2004 when she performed at the US Open in a denim Nike tennis skirt and studded black tank top.
His boundary-pushing style has often ruffled feathers – in the summer of 2018 the French Tennis Federation banned wetsuits after Williams wore a leotard to a match. The suit’s compressive material was designed to minimize blood clots, which Williams had struggled with since giving birth the previous year.
In the late 1990s, Serena and Venus Williams turned heads in their matching beaded braid hairstyles. Embellished cornrows have often been challenged by policy makers, but pearls (as pictured here at the French Open at Roland Garros in 1998) sent an important message to black women around the world. Credit: Franck Seguin/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images
In 1997, at her first-ever US Open, Williams and her sister Venus both wore their hair in cornrows, with each braid threaded into a heavy pile of white pearls. (During Monday night’s match at the US Open, Williams’ daughter Olympia was seen in the crowd wearing a set of white pearl braids herself, a poignant tribute.) The proud display of black hair in a sport dominated by whites was a triumph for blacks. women everywhere, although the style has not always been accepted by tennis decision makers. At the Australian Open in 1999, Williams lost a pearl – and a point – in the throes of an electric match against Lindsay Davenport. She was reprimanded by the referee for causing a “trouble” with her hair.
Williams’ crystal-embellished bodice and layered tutu skirt are inspired by figure skating costumes. Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
The tennis champ is also well versed in fearless fashion off the court. At the 2011 Met Gala, Williams arrived in an ethereal feathered Oscar de la Renta dress and fascinator. Eight years later, as Gala co-host alongside Harry Styles and Lady Gaga, Williams put her own mark on evening elegance – her look was glamorous with a touch of camp, fitting the theme of the event, as she strutted down the red carpet wearing not a pair of stilettos, but neon yellow Off-White for Nike sneakers and a matching Versace dress. And in 2021, she stepped out in a Gucci look that similarly stole the show with a form-fitting silver embroidered bodysuit and huge feathered cape.
Earlier this year, she walked the runway at Paris Fashion Week wearing a look from Off-White’s Fall/Winter 2022 collection.
S by Serena, her clothing line launched in 2018, is specifically designed for “strong” women, using the tagline, “never afraid to step up and make a statement, sartorial or otherwise”.
The Nike Swoosh logo on Williams’ bespoke sneakers is encrusted with diamonds. Credit: Nike