Look of the week: Serena Williams’ dazzling black tournament outfit
With the good, the bad and the ugly, “Look of the week” is a regular series dedicated to unboxing the most talked about outfit of the past seven days.
The look, tailored for Williams by Nike and inspired by figure skating costumes, featured a subtle six-layer tutu in reference to her six US Open wins. It included a detachable black and gold shimmering train, a pair of diamond embellished NikeCourt sneakers, a jeweled headband and a galaxy of gems stamped into her hair. Even her shoelaces received the royal treatment with a set of personalized gold deubré 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 August 29 in New York. Recognition: Al Bello/Getty Images
This isn’t the first time Williams has wielded the communicative power of fashion; She has often used athletic apparel to challenge industry expectations and advocate for black athleticism. In February 2021, the tennis star wore an ’80s-inspired asymmetric catsuit to the Australian Open to pay tribute to another luminary: record-breaking American track star Florence Griffith Joyner. And while tennis has long been associated with flawless all-white ensembles, Williams often flipped the script, like in 2004 when she played at the US Open in a denim Nike tennis skirt and black studded top.
Her pushy style has often caused a stir – in the summer of 2018, the French Tennis Federation banned catsuits after Williams wore a catsuit to a match. The suit’s compression material was designed to minimize blood clots, which Williams had struggled with since giving birth the year before.
In the late 1990s, Serena and Venus Williams caused quite a stir with their matching pearl braids. The embellished cornrows were often questioned by rulemakers, but the beads (as pictured here at the 1998 Roland Garros French Open) sent an important message to black women everywhere. Recognition: Franck Seguin/Corbis/VCG/Getty Images
In 1997, at their first-ever US Open, Williams and her sister Venus wore their hair in cornrows, each braid threaded through a heavy pile of white beads. (During Monday night’s game at the US Open, Williams’ daughter Olympia could be seen in the crowd, wearing a set of white pearl braids herself, in a poignant tribute.) The proud display of black hair in a white-dominated sport was a triumph for black Women everywhere, although the style hasn’t always been accepted by tennis rule makers. At the 1999 Australian Open, Williams lost a pearl – and a point – in an electrifying game to Lindsay Davenport. She was reprimanded by the referee for causing a “disturbance” with her hair.
Williams’ crystal-embellished bodice and layered tutu skirt are inspired by figure skating costumes. Recognition: Jamie Squire/Getty Images
The tennis champion also knows his way around fearless fashion off the court. Williams appeared at the 2011 Met Gala in an ethereal floor-length Oscar de la Renta gown, complete with feathers and a fascinator. Eight years later, co-hosting the gala alongside Harry Styles and Lady Gaga, Williams put her own stamp on the evening’s sophistication – her look was glamorous with a camp twist, befitting the event’s theme, as she strutted the red carpet Instead of wearing a pair of stiletto heels, she wore neon yellow Off-White for Nike sneakers and a matching Versace dress. And in 2021, she stepped out in a similarly spotlight-stealing Gucci look with a form-fitting embroidered silver bodysuit and a huge feathered cape.
Earlier this year she walked the runway at Paris Fashion Week modeling a look from Off-White’s Fall Winter 2022 collection.
Launched back in 2018, S by Serena, her clothing line, designs specifically for ‘strong’ women with the slogan ‘never be afraid to stand up and make a statement, fashion or otherwise’.
The Nike Swoosh logo on Williams’ custom sneakers is encrusted with diamonds. Recognition: Nike