Serena Williams On Designing Jewelry & Supporting Black-Owned Brands
Plus, her favorite on-court looks.
Serena Williams is an undisputed icon. The tennis champion has won 23 Grand Slam singles titles and four Olympic gold medals, and is regarded as one of the greatest athletes of all time. But off the court, she’s taken on a newer role as a fashion designer and, most recently, marked her first foray into jewelry.
Earlier this year, Williams launched her Unstoppable limited edition jewelry collection, with 100% of net proceeds from the collection benefitting Black-owned small businesses through the Opportunity Fund, an organization that provides loans to low- and moderate-income immigrants, women, and other underserved small business owners.
“I have always had an affinity to jewelry and often I’ll wear it while I’m playing,” Williams tells Bustle. “My background, actually, is fashion design, so this is a whole new world for me. But I’ve always loved jewelry. I’ve even done a few matches in some pretty crazy pieces.”
Her latest collection, called Unstoppable With All Your Heart, features three new designs: a chain bracelet, bangle, and necklace. With each piece, a pavé diamond-accented heart complements sterling silver design elements.
Ahead, Williams shares more about her design inspiration, favorite Black-owned businesses, and current self-care routine.
How did you come up with the name Unstoppable, and what is its significance to you?
I wore a specific necklace [an elegant chain with a circle pendant] the last time I won all four Grand Slams in a row back in 2015. I felt really unstoppable with it on. That’s where the idea came from. The circular design of the Unstoppable collection was inspired by the necklace I wore at the four Grand Slams.
Why was it important for Unstoppable’s proceeds to benefit Black-owned small businesses?
We really wanted to find a way to not only give back, but to find ways that people could feel progressive during a time like this. Everyone is asking what they can do to help fight social injustice. I wanted to create an avenue for people to do that. I wanted consumers to feel good about buying a necklace or bracelet that supports women of color, Black women in particular, who are [subject] to oppression and rejection.
Which Black-owned small businesses are you shopping from these days? Any brands you’d like to shout out?
Mahmee, founded by Melissa Hanna. Mahmee is a group of technologists and health care industry leaders that connect maternal and infant health care ecosystems together to help fill in the gaps. As you can imagine, this is a cause near and dear to me, given my birth experience to Olympia.
How have these last few months in quarantine affected your personal style? Are you more “comfort over everything,” or do you still get dressed up?
I’m definitely still comfort over everything. I love to throw on my Nike loungewear and have on something I can chase Olympia around in — mommy-proof gear.
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What’s your go-to look whenever you need to be put together quickly — say, for a last-minute Zoom call?
I am usually in something comfortable between training, chasing after Olympia, or sitting in meetings from my home office. When I need to look more professional, I throw on my S by Serena plaid belted overcoat. I keep it hung up in my office so I have easy access to it when I am back to back and don’t have time to get more dressed up before a Zoom meeting. It’s also a great jacket for travel. It’s light, but warm and versatile for layering in different temperatures.
Your on-the-court outfits are so iconic. What do you love most about fashion?
The reason I love fashion is because we can use it as a vehicle for sharing a powerful message. When I worked with Nike and Virgil [Abloh, CEO of the fashion label Off-White], we were able to create pieces that will inspire a new generation of athletes everywhere.
If you had to pick, what are your favorite on-the-court looks from years past? What did you love most about them?
What immediately comes to mind is the jean skirt I wore in 2004 with the high boots. But I have to say I really loved the Nike x Off-White tutu outfits [from the 2018 US Open]. Tutus are my favorite thing in life. I kept all the dresses and I still wear them sometimes.
Between the pandemic, the protests for racial justice, and general heaviness in the world right now, how are you staying creatively motivated? What does your self-care routine look like?
My self-care routine is never the same. Regardless, I always try to carve out moments to tend to myself and nurture my body — whether I’m trying a new product or staying loyal to my trusted coconut oil. It’s taken a while to fall back into a self-care routine. After having a baby, I didn’t want to do anything for myself. I wanted to do it all for my daughter. It’s a great attitude, but moms don’t treat themselves the way they deserve. So that’s my thing now.
This interview has been edited and condensed.