Twenty years ago, when Serena Williams made her debut as a professional tennis player, she brought more to the court than her game-changing talent: She and older sister Venus also brought their audacious sense of style, making them subject to both praise and unwarranted criticism.
In 1999, during the Australian Open, Venus received a penalty point after a strand of her notoriously colorful hair beads slid from one of her braids and fell on the court; it was deemed distracting to her opponent, Lindsay Davenport. (Davenport said it wasn't a total distracting, but a little annoying.) In 2002, during the US Open, Serena Williams wore a skin-tight faux leather black Puma bodysuit (that she helped design) and was criticized for being inappropriately dressed. She's since moved on to denim skirts, knee-high tennis boots, flouncy mini skirts, hot pink bodysuits and, most recently, a love of animal print. Plus, she was the first black female athlete to grace the cover of Vogue.
Though she's the number one women's tennis player, Serena is constantly ridiculed for her athletically curvy figure. Yet she continues to use her outfits on the tennis court to celebrate her body and dismiss public (and media) opinions. She's also been designing clothing for other women—from one-off athletic collections with Puma and Nike to designing her own line, Serena Williams Signature Statement Collection, which will show at New York Fashion Week this year. After being signed with Nike for almost a decade, Williams introduces the biggest collection she has designed with the brand yet, befittingly called the Serena Greatness collection. She explained her attitude in an interview with The New York Times:
“Is greatness winning? Is it losing? Is it recovery?” she asked, by way of example. Then she offered her conclusion: “It’s all of them, plus being good to yourself.”
She'll be wearing her Nike collection—that consists of a bomber jacket, three pairs of sneakers, a day game dress and a night game dress—at the US Open, which officially starts Monday. Her performance at the Open will decide if she becomes the first woman in 27 years to win a Grand Slam in a calendar year. In typical Serena Williams fashion, the dress she's designed has animal prints and accentuates her curves. In celebration of the Serena Greatness collection launching today, here's a look at some of Serena's best looks on the tennis court.
Shades of Pink.
Tahirah Hairston is a style writer from Detroit who likes Susan Miller, Rihanna's friend's Instagram accounts, ramen and ugly-but cute shoes.