Other people in Serena Williams‘s position would be taking a well-deserved break right now. But rather than jetting off on holiday after reaching the final of the US Open a matter of days ago, the tennis sensation has turned her attention to another of her passions: fashion. Williams’s autumn/winter 2019 S By Serena collection, unveiled in a “see now, buy now” show during New York Fashion Week on Tuesday, is inspired by 1990s street style, and is billed as a celebration of her own “strength, hustle and rise to the top”.
British Vogue caught up with Williams ahead of the show to talk inclusivity, inspirations, and maintaining a good work life balance. The athlete says she concentrates on making sure her different careers and her family life “flow together”, and she went on to show us just what that looks like at her show – she took her bow with her two-year-old daughter Olympia in her arms.
Inclusivity is at the heart of this collection – why is this message so important to you?
“I want everyone who wears these clothes to feel like they are stepping into their individuality and creative power, no matter what the size of the label says. When it comes to inclusive sizing, we have the word ‘plus’, but I like the word ‘GREAT’, which is the name of our extended sizes, even better. I’m so excited to see everybody and every body wear the S by Serena collection. Empowering our customers empowers me.”
The line is for women “who turn fear into courage and doubt into confidence”. Are fear these things you wrestle with at this point in your career? You’ve achieved so much, but do you experience any fear or self-doubt?
“People who believe in themselves and channel fear or self-doubt into change constantly inspire me. Over the course of my career, I’ve learned from so many incredible women that have overcome barriers, and it’s a reminder for me to show up even more confident than before. It’s easier said than done, but if I am in that mindset, I remind myself that how I handle situations is so important for my daughter as she grows up, and for those around me.”
You’re throwing yourself into NYFW immediately after reaching the final of the US Open, how easy do you find it to switch between your many roles… athlete/designer/mother and so on?
“Every day is a lesson in ‘balance’! For me, it’s about making my careers and family life flow together. Olympia [my daughter] is my biggest priority, but I try to maintain balance by setting affirmations and reminders for myself to remember that everything can exist harmoniously. S by Serena is definitely designed for the woman who wants to find balance in her life.”
Supporting other women is clearly something you’re passionate about, how did it feel to have your friend HRH The Duchess of Sussex cheering you on from the stands at the US Open?
“Her support means so much!”
If you could pick only one piece from the collection, what would it be?
“I am obsessed with our Naomi Oversized Pocket Jacket and Wrap Skirt. It’s sexy and sophisticated, and the camel color makes me so excited for Fall.”