Serena Williams just won her first professional tennis match after giving birth to her daughter Olympia, but somehow her French Open win isn’t today’s biggest Serena-related news. So here it is: Serena Williams is launching her own direct-to-consumer fashion collection of sportswear and evening wear. As if that wasn’t enough, every piece is under $250 (£188).
They say life is about timing. I learned this lesson at age 18, when I chose to play a light tennis schedule because I wanted to go to fashion school. Some criticized my decision, but I knew I had two loves–tennis and fashion–and had to find a way to make them coexist. After 15 years of false starts, and people in fashion telling me “no,” it only only drove me to work harder. As a result, I discovered what it meant to invest in myself, and I allowed that belief in myself to drive me to reach my dream. Today, I am proud to launch @serena , my own online shop. Never stop believing in yourself, you’re worth it. #BeSeenBeHeard
At a preview of the line, which launches today with 12 items and will have additional releases throughout the summer and autumn, Williams explained the philosophy behind the Serena collection. “We want people to be able to actually look good and not have to overpay for it,” she told Vogue. “That’s what I want to do. I want to make pieces that you look good in, that aren’t outrageously priced.”
Her debut release spans underwear, denim, tees, jackets, and an olive green silk crepe slip dress that she personally selected the fabric for. “The slip dress is so classic, and I wanted to bring it in more of a silk crepe, something that has more texture. You know, usually silk slips are just smooth—which I love—but I wanted to do something different,” Williams paused. “You know I love to be different.”
It’s Williams’s own fierce effortlessness that differentiates this collection from other celebrity-backed fashion lines. You can feel her hand in a varsity knit with the letter W emblazoned on the chest, just the right mix of sporty and curve-hugging sexy. You can imagine Williams tossing on that gold foil anorak over her tennis gear for a practice. (Gold really is the colour associated with champions, isn’t it?) You can relate to her struggle to make the perfect jean in Los Angeles: “I got so tired of seeing only stretch jeans,” she shrugs. “I wanted to bring structure back to the jeans. You know, you don’t see jeans that have structure that can fit skinny girls or curvy girls, but these do. They fit me so well, and, yes, they have a little give to them, so you can obviously get in to them, but it brings it back to that classic jean shape from the ’80s.”
But more than any design element or the sheer genius of launching her collection direct to her fans and skipping the middle man – “I’m a modern girl. I married a guy who’s in tech and I’m in tech!” she proudly declares of her strategy – it is her level of commitment and care to perfecting each piece that really sets Serena apart. “I wanted to do it right. We were actually supposed to launch about eight months ago, but that obviously couldn’t happen,” she says, referencing her own pregnancy and wedding as important moments that put the Serena launch on hold. So instead of rushing or cramming to make it work, Williams took it slowly, turning her focus to how to make this the best collection for women everywhere.
Becoming a mother, she explains, actually helped her rethink the collection. “I actually want to look better. I want to always be stylish, so I have to make more of an effort because I have the baby,” she says, letting down her guard for just a second to add, “God, you don’t care about yourself as much when you become a mum, it’s all about the baby!” Those moments, as Williams tells it, only helped her feel more inspired to create pieces that can make a woman feel dressed and ready to take on the day without any fuss or frills. Future launches have inspirational messaging written right on to them, so wearers can be reassured throughout the day – “It’s just a friendly reminder: I’m strong and I’m beautiful,” says Williams. Who knows? Maybe daughter Olympia will be getting in to the fashion game soon. “Stay tuned,” Williams laughs. “Rumour has it she has a collection too and she’ll be part of it.”