Williams launched her own clothing line this week, the day after winning at the French Open in a sleek black catsuit.
After the French Open this week, Serena Williams, with her hair cornrowed and braided into a twisted bun, smashed her way into the second round of the competition, beating Kristyna Pliskova 7-6 (4), 6-4 in her first grand slam since giving birth in September 2017.
It was a return to form made all the more noticeable by what she was wearing – a black catsuit, which cinched at the waist with a thick band of red fabric.
The outfit seemed to announce two things: first, that having a baby would not hold her back from continuing her tennis career – the catsuit was designed to prevent the return of life-endangering blood clots she faced after giving birth.
And second, the launch of her own fashion line, Serena.
In the past, some factions of the press have viewed Williams as being the antithesis of stylish – the Telegraph noted her and sister Venus’s ‘outrageous’ tennis outfits through the years, while the Sun called some of Serena’s outfits ‘eye-popping’ and not fit for the tennis court.
But so far, the reaction to her new athleisure line – which is priced from $40 for a sports bra trimmed with the initial ’S’ and up to $215 for a black and gold ‘knockout’ hooded jacket – has been positive.
While the catsuit sadly doesn’t show up, the line features a white tailored sports dress replete with racing stripes, a comfortable grey and pink cropped sweatshirt and sweatpants, an olive-toned, silky, sexy slip of an evening dress and – in a move which harks back to her infamous denim miniskirt and thigh-high black boot combo of 2004 – a dungaree dress.
Williams has undoubtedly redefined how a tennis player should behave – and dress.
The catsuit, she said, made her feel like a warrior princess superhero from Black Panther’s homeland Wakanda.
Other recent fashion moments have included her wedding day, where she floated down the aisle in a puff of fairytale magic wearing a huge tulle dress that included a cape, her appearance in Beyoncé’s 2016 ode to black femininity, Lemonade, where she twerked in a diamanté bodysuit, and the brand new cover of Harper’s Bazaar, where her off-the-shoulder silken beach cover-up reveals a simple, striking black swimsuit.
One of my personal favourites is from 2008, when she took to the Wimbledon court in a trench coat.
Although her fashion line at the moment only goes through sizes small to extra large – something she is being criticised for – it’s testament to an impressively resilient mindset that Williams has produced clothing that nonetheless show off “strong, sexy, sophisticated” body shapes.
I’ve written in the past about the influence her positive attitude towards her figure has had on someone like me, a woman who finds it easy to gain muscle, and has been shamed for having a ‘manly’ body shape.
During another outing for a catsuit she wore to play in 2002, she told reporters: “If you don’t have a decent shape, this isn’t the best outfit to have.”