Flashback Friday: About That Time Serena Williams Took on NYFW

Photo: Getty Images for Style360

Editor’s note: While we try to stay on top of everything at all times, sometimes a post gets lost on the way to publishing—which is what happened when we wrote the following coverage of the first New York Fashion Week appearance of Serena Williams’ S by Serena line on Sept. 10. So, in honor of the GOAT—who celebrated her 38th birthday Thursday, making her one of a handful of women tennis players to be Top 10-ranked at that age—and #FlashbackFriday, we’re flashing back to one of the most star-studded shows and wearable collections we saw all week.

She may not have tied Margaret Court’s Grand Slam record at this year’s U.S. Open, but Serena Williams always bounces back, making the most of her time in New York City to launch her “see now, buy now” Autumn/Winter 2019 S by Serena runway collection during NYFW at Klarna STYLE360 on Tuesday, Sept. 10. The Glow Up was in the house that Tuesday afternoon (seated alongside a still-fine Rick Fox and his former stepdaughter, Lion Babe’s Jillian Hervey, as well as Williams’ husband, Alexis Ohanian) along with industry insiders like Anna Wintour, Ashley Graham, and Williams’ friends Kim Kardashian and LaLa Anthony (alas, there were no Duchess of Sussex sightings, but we can dream).

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“Inspired by Williams’ love for fashion and vision to build a global community of dynamic women, the collection features accessible, versatile pieces that amplify our inherent greatness and champions all women to unapologetically #BeSeenBeHeard through their creativity and individuality,” read a release for the collection, which ranges from $59 to $229 and has shown significant growth since S by Serena launched in 2018. The collection, much of which is now available online, with more released to retail later this fall, demonstrated a distinctly elevated sensibility from the sportswear and athleisure of Williams’ debut collection.

Photo: Getty Images for Style360

Featuring a heavy dose of the still-ubiquitous animal print, pops of chartreuse and shocking pink, and copious amounts of sequins, Williams’ woman, like the icon herself, is both feminine and strong. Speaking on the collection’s inspiration, the release states that drawn from “1990s street fashion mixed with sleek modern times, the collection is a celebration of Williams’ hustle, strength, and rise to the top.” Including dresses, tops, bottoms, outerwear, and jumpsuits, select items will be available in S by Serena’s extended GREAT sizing (1x-3x), and Williams did her following a solid by showing those items in tandem on different body types.

“We need to get rid of the term “plus-size,” said Williams, while in conversation with Bozoma Saint John, Chief Marketing Officer of Endeavor, during ‘Breakfast of Champions: Real Talk with Two Female Champions Inspiring the Next Generation’ that Monday, Sept. 9, a part of NYFW: The Talks presented by Wheaties.

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“With my collection, I’ve renamed sizing “great” because women aren’t plus-size, they’re great,” she continued. “I design for someone who believes in themselves, or those ladies who need a pick-me-up in the morning. I want my customer to feel confident in my clothes and walk around with their shoulders back and their heads held high. I design from the inside out and that’s what really matters when making a difference.”

Obviously, Williams knows a thing or two about keeping her head held high; the 23-time Grand Slam winner, as she shared with Saint John: “Coming up in tennis, I was always only one of four black athletes on tour so I’ve learned to become comfortable with uncomfortable.”

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Her coping tactic? Kindness. “Being kind is underestimated,” she told the Breakfast of Champions crowd. “Be kind to the person to the left and to the right of you. We all need a little more kindness in the world.”

Serena Williams (left) and Chief Marketing Officer of Endeavor, Bozoma Saint John speak during ‘Real Talk with Two Female Champions Inspiring the Next Generation’ as a part of NYFW: The Talks. Presented by Wheaties at Spring Studios on September 09, 2019 in New York City.
Photo: Bryan Bedder (Getty Images for IMG)
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It may not be the credo one would expect from a world-class athlete known for both the power of her serve and her passion for competition, but as a bona fide multi-hyphenate, Williams is quickly defying definition.

“This collection is a celebration for those who break limits, boundaries and tradition,” said the mogul in the release. Reminding us that she’s also a working mother, Williams brought two-year-old daughter Olympia onto the catwalk with her at the close of Tuesday’s show. “This is designed for people who turn fear into courage and doubt into confidence,” she continued, “from indomitable mothers, daughters, and sisters to resilient business owners and entrepreneurs, young girls with crazy dreams, and women of color who show no fear in the face of adversity or challenge.”

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About the author

Maiysha Kai

Maiysha Kai is Managing Editor of The Glow Up and your average Grammy-nominated goddess next door. Minneapolis born, Chicago bred, New York built. Nuance is her superpower.