Serena Williams serves up 'what’s next,' dishes on new fashion collection at NYFW

Anika Reed

NEW YORK — Serena Williams might be calling it quits on one court, but she’s taking her talents to another one.

Just days after what was likely her final professional tennis match at the US Open, Williams is finding freedom in her latest S by Serena collection, showcasing her new designs on a replica tennis court atop New York Fashion Week’s headquarters at Spring Studios in downtown New York City. The tennis star tells USA TODAY she’s leaning in to comfort in her clothing and the next chapter of her career.

"After this week, I'm going to figure that out and take a break," Williams says of what's next for her.

Serena Williams speaks just ahead of her S By Serena presentation. The fashion show, held on top of Spring Studios at Glam Slam Presented by NYFW: The Shows and Chase Sapphire, took place atop a tennis court replica on Sept. 12, 2022, in New York City.

She's been going nonstop, competing in singles and doubles matches at the US Open tournament days before debuting her brand's latest clothing pieces during fashion week at IMG’s Glam Slam, an experiential multi-day, tennis-themed event space presented by Chase and launched by IMG and Spring Studios. Williams half-jokes that she "slept for like 20 hours straight" after the tennis tournament.

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Her new collection is "inspired by comfort" and designed in a way where everyday people can "actually (be) able to wear it." More than that, she says, her line is accessible and affordable. The 40-year-old, who debuted the clothing line in 2018, touts the instant shoppability of her collection and shows off the brown, skintight off-the-shoulder dress she's wearing as one of the "cool designs" that's both functional and comfy.

"My mindset is just to design with people in mind and not let any barriers stop you," Williams says.

Models walk the runway at GLAM SLAM Presented by NYFW: The Shows and Chase Sapphire Session 6: S By Serena Presentation with Serena Williams during NYFW: The Shows 2022 at Spring Studios on Sept. 12, 2022, in New York City.

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The tennis GOAT has not let barriers get in her way of becoming a star athlete and doing it her way, sporting tons of memorable fashion looks on and off the court while breaking records and expanding her influence beyond the game.

"My favorite on court (outfit) was definitely the Flo-Jo inspired look," Williams says, referencing the asymmetric unitard that paid homage to late track and field star Florence Griffith Joyner. "Off court, the GOAT stuff (from S by Serena) is just so comfortable. We just had a new (piece) that we released with a zip that I literally wear every day – I wore it here, too."

Williams, who announced her retirement from tennis in a Vogue cover story for its September issue, has said she's ready to take time for her family, which includes daughter Olympia. The 4-year-old was on hand Monday, cheering on her superstar mom from the front row during a pre-show conversation with Harper’s Bazaar digital director Nikki Ogunnaike and sitting on her mom’s lap during the show.

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As she looks down the line to what she wants to pass along to Olympia, Williams says personal pieces from her eponymous jewelry line, launched in 2019, are what she wants her daughter to have.

Serena Williams and models pose at GLAM SLAM Presented by NYFW: The Shows and Chase Sapphire Session 6: S By Serena Presentation with Serena Williams during NYFW: The Shows 2022 at Spring Studios on Sept. 12, 2022, in New York City.

In a tearful post-game interview after her last match at this month's US Open, Williams said there's no her, in tennis, without older sister Venus Williams; that also extends to business, Williams told Ogunnaike. "Venus has helped me out a lot. She knows how to run a business really well, and she's really been super helpful for me," Williams said.

Following the pre-show interview, models rocking S by Serena strutted onto a blue tennis court. As they lined up on the edge of the sporty runway, Williams joined them, standing shoulder to shoulder looking to the future. Game on.

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