Look of the week: Serena Williams’ dazzling black tournament outfit

Written by Leah Dolan, CNN

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.

Serena Williams knew all eyes would be on her at this week’s US Open – it’s widely expected to be her last tournament after recently announcing she was “walking away” from tennis. The sports star chose to mark the occasion with a dazzling black tennis dress, which was worn on Monday at Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York as she won her first-round match against Danka Kovinić. She also wore the outfit as she defeated world No. 2 Anett Kontaveit in their singles match on Wednesday to advance to the third round.

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 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.

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.

The Nike Swoosh logo on Williams’ custom sneakers is encrusted with diamonds. Recognition: Nike

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