Love Serena Williams Style

Posted on 21. Dec, 2008 by Administrator in Fashion, Profiles

Words by Ben Thomas
Photos by Robert Todd Williamson

Professional sports and fashion have always shared an awkward dance. As an athlete, you’re stuck wearing a regulation uniform, or some sponsors’ dri-fit mesh bull-shit T-shirt (sorry Tiger Woods, but your shit is goofy). Now, the other country club sport allows for a little leeway. Tennis stars have been pushing the boundary of what’s appropriate for a while now, and no one seems to challenge the sport’s dress code more than Serena Williams. Her collection of skin-tight onesies and unique tennis dresses has definitely showcased her raw power so to speak (and of course no one can deny her dominance in the sport, winning 32 singles championships, 12 doubles, 9 grand slam events in singles, 8 grand slam events in doubles, a couple o’ Olympic gold medals, and the 1991 Kenosha, WI Pinewood Derby). But this talented athlete isn’t all quads and abs in a smart outfit – she’s a tremendous individual who uses her celebrity for good by championing many philanthropic causes and inspiring others to shine through her own clothing line, Aneres (hold up a mirror to unlock the special code).
I recently chatted up the former world #1 – she had a brief stint at the top this year after her brilliant win at the U.S. Open but lost it after she withdrew from the Tier I Kremlin Cup due to an ankle injury – before the Thanksgiving holiday to get a read on her recent travels, her new concepts in fashion and her continuing charitable endeavors. It was hard to get a hold of Miss Williams, as she had been traveling to and from any one of the world’s seven continents after ending her tennis season in October. After a couple of months of tracking her down, h and I finally caught up with the Sultanne of Swat for a photo shoot
and some conversation.
Serena had just returned from Africa with news of her charitable work with B.A.S. (Build African Schools). Together they opened a secondary school named after her in the village of Matooni, about 70 miles southeast of Nairobi, Kenya, with state-of-the-art solar panels for power and computers donated from Hewlett-Packard. Serena described the impetus for her partnering with B.A.S. after seeing local Kenyan school children using sticks for pencils and dirt for paper: “It broke my heart to see these children who wanted to learn but had none of the tools necessary. I wanted to try to provide these kids with the same opportunities I had growing up.” And provide she did; the school opened to great fanfare, with Kenyans walking up to 30 miles to come and witness the opening. Serena, with the help of B.A.S. and H.P., hopes to open a new school every eight weeks in different
regions in Africa.
“It was surprising to me that so many of the people there had heard of me, since it was such a remote place,” said Serena. I figured she was being a bit modest as she’s one of the most famous tennis stars in the world and had just come off from winning the U.S. Open and The Olympics. She lent her talents further on her trip by giving a clinic at a nearby tennis camp in Kenya: “The kids were really talented and they showed the same eagerness to learn that I saw in the schools.” 
As the professional tennis season came to a close a couple of months back, Serena has now got her mind on other things like, fashion. But I couldn’t help but ask her a bit about her fantastic finish in 2008. “I had a good year, and definitely love winning, especially those big matches.” I mentioned that she probably gets asked a lot about competing against her sister Venus (who also designs clothing and sometimes models for Serena), but I asked her about this last U.S. Open’s quarterfinal match anyway. “We’re really close, but we don’t talk much right before or during a match (against each other). We’re both really competitive and of course we both want to win.”
When it comes to fashion, she’s perhaps less competitive against her contemporaries per say, but Serena still strives to have unique and modern designs with a bold edge. She usually causes quite a stir when wearing her designs to events (such as the near topless gown she wore to the London premiere of Pierce Brosnan’s 2004 film,
After the Sunset), but she gave me the impression that her new designs are a bit more tame. “I’m really excited to feature my new collection, Signature Statement, on the Home Shopping Network,” she explained. I figured HSN probably doesn’t want to be in the business of exposing areolas, but you never know with this fucking economy. Nevertheless, Aneres will have new looks in boutiques on both coasts, and she has plans for jewelry, bags and coach wear, and bedding as well.
I finished up my interview with a question about her future goals, and Serena seemed very driven to leave the legacy of a “better being.” I’d say she’s well on her way: her charitable contributions and foundations have given millions over the years, from everything to the Ovarian Cancer Research Fund and the Special Olympics, to the aforementioned Build African Schools and her own Serena Williams Foundation. She expanded by saying, “I‘ve always felt that I needed to follow that old phrase or quote, I think it goes something like, ‘To whom much is given, much is required.’” I looked it up online, and I found out that many famous politicians, artisans, and celebrities have used or paraphrased the line, and it even stems from one of Jesus’ parables in the “Gospel of Luke”. I suppose it must mean something of qualitative substance, so I’ll paraphrase the paraphrased parable and deduce that Serena has given a lot of herself to the world, so she wants us to give back. I’ve already started by writing this amazing and wildly flattering article. What can you do for Serena?

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