With a reputation as one of the tennis world’s most fashionable player, it only made sense that Williams, 40, announced she was retiring from the sport in Vogue’s September issue.
The mother-of-one revealed she will give up the sport competitively after a 27-year-long career, posing in a light blue gown with a generous train held by her daughter Alexis Olympia, five.
It was an appropriate reminder that Williams, who holds 23 Grand Slam titles and was once the World’s Number 1 for 319 consecutive weeks, is as much an ace on the red carpet as she is on the pitch.
A regular at all the big fashion events – from the Academy Awards’ red carpet in LA to the Met Gala in New York City – Williams knows how to work an outfit and to shape a narrative around her fashion.
In 2016, she put on an ultra feminine display in Beyoncé’s Sorry video, where she could be seen dancing, twerking and grinding on the floor, in a departure from her sporty image.
And not only has she made history on the court, she also broke fashion records with her wedding dress, said to be the most expensive celebrity bridal gowns of all time, costing $3.5million.
In 2018, she raised eyebrows and unleashed a controversy on female player attire when she donned a skin-tight bodysuit at the French Open, eventually having the outfit banned.
2016 SORRY MUSIC VIDEO
As the tennis star announces her retirement, we look back at her fashion achievements, on and off the pitch. In 2016, she put on an ultra feminine display in Beyoncé’s Sorry video, where she could be seen dancing, twerking and grinding on the floor, in what was seen as a departure from her sporty image
When Beyoncé released her conceptual album Lemonade in 2016, fans were surprised to see the starring role Serena Williams held in the video for Sorry.
Shot in black and white in a Southern mansion, Williams could be seeing dancing seductively around Beyoncé, dressed in a lacy black body and a flowing black negligee.
It was a departure from her sporty image, with Williams twerking next to the singer and writhing on the floor.
Williams spoke about what motivated her to appear in the video with the Associated Press at the time.
Shot in black and white in a Southern mansion, Williams could be seeing dancing seductively around Beyoncé, dressed in a lacy black body and a flowing black negligee
It was a departure from her sporty image, with Williams twerking next to the singer and writhing on the floor
She said her ties with Kahlil Joseph, who directed the video ,and her friendship with Beyoncé brought the project around.
‘I have known the director since I was like nine years old. I know Beyoncé pretty well, so they were like, “We would love for you to be in this particular song. It’s about strength and it’s about courage and that’s what we see you as”,’ she explained.
And she also admitted she struggled to le go as the camera rolled on.
‘[Beyoncé] told me that she just wants me to dance, like just be really free and just dance like nobody’s looking and go all out. So that wasn’t easy in the beginning, but then it got easier,’ she said.
Reflecting on the video a few weeks after it was released, Williams told Grazia magazine she did not regret appearing in the anthem.
‘I am not sorry for who I am,’ she said of the video, which sees her twerking alongside the entertainment icon.
‘I am not sorry about anything. I really connected with those lyrics and felt good about that,’ she explained.
2017 PREGNANCY PHOTOSHOOT
The star, who was about seven months pregnant when she graced the cover of Vogue’s August issue in 2017
The ace confirmed she and Alexis Ohanian, then her fiancé, were expecting on 17 April 2017.
The star shared the news via a picture of her blossoming baby bump on Snapchat, revealing she was 20 weeks pregnant.
But she followed up this early days announcement with a much grander photoshoot with Vanity Fair, appearing on the cover of the magazine’s August edition.
The star, who was about seven months pregnant at the time, starred in an intimate beach photoshoot with her fiancé.
Inside the magazine, the pictures by Annie Leibovitz immortalised the player in a silk orange dress , while another snap showed her nude, wearing only a skin-colour thong and cradling her baby bump, which was circled with a jewelled belt.
In true A-listed style, the cover was a nod to Demi Moore’s own 1991 pregnancy cover, in which she also posed naked.
The breath-taking pictures were called ‘powerful’ by fans online when they were first revealed.
It is believe the confection Serena wore for her wedding on 16 November 2017 was worth £2.6million, and it is still considered the costliest celebrity wedding dress of all time
Not content with breaking records on the pitch, Serena also broke records with her wedding dress.
She tied the knot with Alexis on 16 November 2017, in a Beauty and the Beast themed wedding with an all-star guest list including Beyonce, Kim Kardashian and Anna Wintour.
It is believe the confection she wore for her big day was worth £2.6million, and is still considered the costliest celebrity wedding dress of all time.
Stylish Serena opted for a Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen dress, with a large tulle skirt, and stopped it off with sparkling XIV Karats jewellery.
Speaking of the dress with Vogue, she said shortly after the wedding: ‘I flew to London to meet with Sarah and ended up falling in love with the ball gown silhouette, which is completely the opposite of what I ever thought I would choose for myself.
‘I loved the idea of doing a really spectacular ball gown, and it has turned out to be such an incredibly special piece,’ she added.
After the ceremony, the sporting great changed into a feathery Versace number to bust some move on the dance floors with her star-studded guest list and her husband.
2018 ROYAL WEDDING
For Prince Harry and Meghan Markle’s wedding in May 2018, Serena donned a stylish dusty pink ensemble
She completed a look with a large chunky necklace from Bulgari’s heritage collection. She was accompanied by her husband Alexis Ohanian
When 1.9 billion people tuned in to watch Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot on May 19 2018, Serena Williams was amongst the very stylish guests who got to watch the whole thing live.
The tennis star and her husband Alexis made a very handsome pair when they arrived at St. George’s Chapel at Windsor Castle.
Williams, who has a long-standing friendship with Meghan, wore a dusty pink dress, with a matching fascinator.
Looking chic, the star looked relaxed, laughing and smiling as she and her husband made their way into the chapel ahead of the service.
She completed a look with a large chunky necklace from Bulgari’s heritage collection.
According to a spokesperson for the brand at the time, the lavish piece featured Roman Imperial silver, gold, and bronze coins, as well as pave diamonds.
The ancient coins were over 2,000 years old, dating all the way back to the 1st century AD.
To finish off her look, Serena wore her hair in long braids that were gathered over one shoulder.
After posing for a couple of pictures by herself, Serena also made sure to snap a photo with her husband, who looked dapper in a traditional morning suit, and a pale blue tie.
Later that night, the ace managed to top her previous look with a vibrant dress from Valentino.
The floor-length number featured a floral skirt with a black square neck bodice.
She pulled the look together with a stunning gold necklace and golden earrings, leaving her hair flowing onto one side.
Sharing her outfit on social media she thanked Pierpaolo Piccioli, the creative director of the Italian fashion house, for putting her look together.
2018 FRENCH OPEN
The player raised eyebrows when she rolled up to the French Open wearing a skin-tight black catsuit in 2018
The player raised eyebrows when she rolled up to the French Open wearing a skin-tight black catsuit in 2018.
While Williams said the suit made her feel like a superhero, the confection was decried by the French Tennis Federation president, Bernard Giudicelli, who said the get up was ‘disrespectful to the game.
‘It will no longer be accepted,’ Giudicelli said. ‘One must respect the game and the place.’
He said Roland Garros’ new rules wouldn’t be as strict as Wimbledon’s, which require that players wear white, but would ‘impose certain limits’.
And he added that the FFT would be asking manufacturers for an advance look at the designs the players planned to wear at the competition from 2018 on.
While Williams said the suit made her feel like a superhero, the confection was decried by the French Tennis Federation president, Bernard Giudicelli, who said the get up was ‘disrespectful to the game, and was eventually banned
There was a practical reason for the full-length legs on the skintight outfit: The aim was to protect Williams because of past bouts with blood clots.
With the outfit, she also wanted to send about self-worth and feeling powerful as she returned to Grand Slam action about nine months after giving birth to her daughter Olympia Ohanian, who was 11 months at the time.
‘I call it, like, my Wakanda-inspired catsuit,’ referring to the fictional nation in the film Black Panther.
‘We designed it way before the movie,’ she said, ‘but still, it kind of reminds me of that.’
Williams said she felt ‘like a warrior princess, kind of,’ when she wears the outfit.
‘I’m always living in a fantasy world,’ she added. ‘I always wanted to be a superhero, and it’s kind of my way of being a superhero.’
The champion gave birth on September 1 2017, then dealt with complications related to a pulmonary embolism — and the catsuit was also meant to help with her circulation.
‘I had a lot of problems with my blood clots, and, God, I don’t know how many I have had in the past 12 months. So it is definitely a little functionality to it,’ Williams said.
‘I have been wearing pants in general a lot when I play, so I can keep the blood circulation going. It’s a fun suit, but it’s also functional, so I can be able to play without any problems.’
Giudicelli’s decision to ban Williams’ catsuit at the French Open sparked fury among Twitter users at the time, who took to the platform to blast the ‘terrible’ and ‘racist’ move.
Some also struggled to understand what motivated the decision, and pointed out that Williams’ outfit covered her entire body.
But Serena moved on from the controversy, saying she had spoken to Guidicelli herself, and had strong relationship with the French Federation.
She also said she wouldn’t be wearing the suit anymore, quipping: ‘When it comes to fashion, you don’t want to be a repeat offender.’
2018 US OPEN
Fresh off the French Open controversy, Serena stunned in a black suit with a tutu designed by the late Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton menswear artistic director, in a collaboration with Nike at the US Open
Days after the French Open controversy came about, Serena picked a singular outfit to make her US Open debut.
She opted for a black suit with a tutu designed by the late Virgil Abloh, Louis Vuitton menswear artistic director, in a collaboration with Nike.
She also wore fishnet compression tights designed to help with her circulation and avoid blood clots.
She said in an interview at the time that she had liked playing in the trendy tutu skirt.
She also wore fishnet compression tights designed to help with her circulation and avoid blood clots
‘It’s easy to play in, kind of aerodynamic with the one arm free,’ she said of her outfit. ‘The tutu is easy to play in because I practiced in it before. That was fun.’
The eye-catching one-shoulder dress with a tulle tutu delighted fans of the player. It also came with a jacket for Serena to wear off the pitch, and was also available in white.
She was also seen carrying a matching tennis bag that was labeled ‘AKA QUEEN’ and adorned with Abloh’s signature quotation marks.
Because it happened on the heels of the French Open controversy, fans perceived the outfit as a direct response to the French Federation’s comments about the catsuit.
‘Aspire to be as badass as Serena Williams winning the first round of the U.S. Open in a tutu,’ one fan wrote at the time on Twitter.
‘Serena Williams rocked a tutu at her U.S. Open comeback match, days after French Open officials criticized her clothing. She won by the way,’ the publication AJ+ wrote.
2019 MET GALA
Serena wore a delicate number adorned with 3D butterflies by Atelier Versace to the 2019 Met Gala
The sportswoman turned heads in 2019 when she attended the Met Gala in a stunning gown.
The delicate number boasted a butterfly design on its finely crafted bodice, and a generous floor-length skirt by Atelier Versace.
The confection came with a cape and a train, perfectly matching the spirit of that year’s theme, which was Camp.
As she stayed true to her tennis roots, the athlete revealed she added a sporty twist to the pink carpet look, with a pair of neon yellow Nike Air trainers
Incredible: Serena Williams continued to command at that year’s Met Gala, as she changed into a pair of thigh-high boots
Adding to her fashion credenscials, she was one of that year’s dinner host, alongside Lady Gaga, Harry Styles, and Gucci creative director Alessandro Michele.
As she stayed true to her tennis roots, the athlete revealed she added a sporty twist to the pink carpet look, with a pair of neon yellow Nike Air trainers.
It was not the only surprised of the night, with the ace taking her skirt off inside the event, sporting the bodice with eye-catching thigh-high boots with the same butterfly detail.
Keeping accessories to a minimum, Serena wore a pair of simple diamond earrings and rings from de Grisogono, and a statement watch to allow the dress to take centre stage.
2022 FAREWELL GOWN
Serena wore a baby baby blue Balenciaga gown on the cover of Vogue to tell the world she is retiring from tennis
Williams announcing her retirement with a Vogue cover where she looks sculptural in a baby blue dress might have been the most fashionable exits the sporting world has ever witnessed.
Photographer Luis Alberto Rodriguez shot the sports star in several awe-inducing gowns on the beach.
For this cover, the ace donned a baby blue Balenciaga form-fitting dress with a generous train.
She completed the look, which was crafted just for her by Vogue, with blue fringe earring from Bvlgari High Jewelry.
An elongated shot of the picture revealed that her daughter Olympia was present at the shoot and adorably held her mother’s train in her arms.
Neither Serena nor Olympia were wearing shoes in the snap.
As the body-hugging dress revealed the sportswoman’ womanly shape, her calm demeanour offered a stark contrast with the announcement of her retirement.
Writing in the magazine, Williams revealed she is hoping to add to have another child, and said she couldn’t not see herself having another baby while competing.
She added she was still looking forward to compete in the US Open, which will kick-off next month.
The athlete looked sculptural in another form-hugging gown in pictures taken by Louis Alberto Rodriguez