If you follow Serena Williams on social media, you know she’s been preparing for the launch of her namesake clothing line for some time now. If you’ve been keeping up with the greatest athlete of all time for longer, though, you know that she was once enrolled at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale for fashion design—and that she’s created collections for companies like Nike and HSN, as well as been responsible for many of her most memorable on-court outfits. (Remember that Puma catsuit? Yup—all Serena.) Now, for the first time, she’s going out on her own. And it’s crucial that her first independent fashion venture bears her name.
“I needed to call it Serena,” Williams tells Glamour. “I always said I [was] going to call it something else—I even toyed with my name spelled backward…. I need people to know that this is me and this is what you’re getting, and to not shy away from it and to be proud and have that confidence that sometimes even someone like me [doesn’t] have…. I’ve designed for Nike, I’ve designed for Puma, I did that stint with HSN for a few years and we had runway shows, but I was never full creative director. So here I am, complete creative director, down to the grommets that we use on the jeans, the tags, our packaging…. You can see how it plays out different than anything else I’ve done.”
Serena debuts as a 12-piece collection on its own e-commerce site—and with its own crest, which features a few of Williams’ favorite things, like tennis and her dog, Chip. It’ll follow a “drop” system, with new styles released in waves throughout the summer and into the fall. Even within this limited release, you’ll see a range of different aesthetics covered, all of which are a reflection of Williams’ own style: “I was thinking, This is my boardroom look when I go to my meetings, this is what I wear in Florida or in L.A. just hanging out with my friends…. I feel like this really speaks to all different aspects of my life, and since I do so much, it covers a lot of women.”
At launch, everything in Serena is under $250. Affordability was something Williams was hyper-aware of throughout this process. “I’m Serena Williams, and I don’t want to pay $1,000 or $3,000 for an outfit—I can, and I’m not going to,” she says. Instead, she wants to offer that high quality and attention to detail that all shoppers want, at a price point that feels realistic and attainable: “There are so few people who have access to buy whatever they want, however they want. I want them to be able to buy these clothes.”
“The Serena collection is for the woman that believes in herself, that wants to be gorgeous, that already looks good and loves herself on the inside and now is showcasing that on the outside,” Williams tells us. “When I went with this, I thought, I’m not going for age—I’m just going for that girl or that woman that wants to look fabulous. I’m 36 and I’m playing professional tennis, so for me, there’s no age. On paper, I should have been done eight years ago, and I’ve had my best times [since], but it was like: Who says that? Why does age even come into play here?” Williams applies that same line of thinking to her clothing line, and the types of words associated it: She sprinkled empowering slogans and “S-words” throughout this and upcoming drops, that are meant to reflect and celebrate the wearer.
Throughout her career, Williams has held and balanced many titles: tennis champion, board member, design collaborator…. Of all these experiences, there’s one lesson that’s stood out to her as the most valuable as she goes out on her own with this fashion line: “Investing in yourself,” she says, “and that’s what I did in this collection: I invested in myself because I believed in it and I believed in myself. I said, ‘You know what? I put it off for so many years—I’ve always done so much for other people and other companies and I want to do this for myself.’ And I think that’s the best news that I could get.”
See the first pieces from Serena below.