Serena Williams

Serena Williams’ Role as a Fashion and Sports Icon


Dec. 8 2023, Published 3:15 p.m. ET

Nowadays, it’s not too uncommon to see nontraditional clothing and colors on the tennis court. But only a few years ago, tennis clothing was almost uniform, especially for women. Women always wore all white, something that would only start to change when Serena Williams burst into the scene.

Williams was an outlier from the get-go. She was the one Black player in a sport dominated by white people. Her big build and frame were so different from the usual more slender build of other female tennis players of her time.

And as if that wasn’t enough, Serena started going after the almost sexist uniform of female tennis players.

Williams’ Fashion on the Court

Serena came into the tennis world at a tumultuous time for fashion. Andre Agassi had been protesting Wimbledon for a few years for its strict dress code, and the time was ripe for someone on the women’s side to stand up as well.

At first, it was simple. Serena continuously wore braids and beads on the court, which might seem small, but it was already stepping away from the traditional look of women’s tennis.

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As time went on, Williams started changing things up more and more. She began experimenting with different colors and styles, which was beginning to upset a lot of old-school tennis fans.

But perhaps the biggest uproar came in the 2018 French Open when Serena’s black catsuit was banned after the tournament. Serena respected the decision, but there was a huge discussion on how backward the world of tennis was when it came to fashion.

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Serena’s Fashion Off The Court

There came a point when everyone was excited to see what Serena was going to wear next on the court. But as her career progressed, she began getting more and more involved in fashion off the court.

In 2018, William’s launched her clothing line S by Serena. Like her, it wasn’t just any other clothing line with standard clothes and fits. Instead, she went for inclusivity, catering her line to different body types and sizes that are not as common.

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The line also showcased the best of Serena’s characteristics: being strong and feminine at the same time. Too many people believe that you have to be one or the other, but Serena decided to smash that idea with her clothing line.

The following year, Serena also co-hosted the Met Gala, which further cemented her place as a fashion icon.

Retirement and Into the Future

The 2022 US Open was a sad day for tennis fans. After 27 years of playing professionally, Serena Williams decided to hang up her racket and say goodbye to the sport.

There’s no doubt that Serena’s legacy will go on. Being one of the only black women in tennis at her time, she no doubt inspired a generation that even if you don’t fit into the often racist and sexist world, you can fight hard for your place. And in doing so, you might just inspire the next generation as well.

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