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Serena Williams, Style Icon, Retiring From Tennis

Serena Williams stars on the front cover of Vogue's September 2022 issue.
In a cover story for Vogue, superstar athlete and style icon Serena Williams said she was “evolving away” from tennis. (Courtesy)

In a cover story for Vogue, the superstar athlete and style icon said she was “evolving away” from tennis. While she wasn’t explicit about when she would stop playing the sport, she hinted on Instagram that the upcoming US Open could be her last tournament. “The countdown has begun,” she wrote.

Williams’ trajectory from child of a rough Los Angeles neighbourhood to champion tennis player with 23 grand slam wins was as improbable as it was impactful, shaking up the then predominantly white country club sport. She wasn’t always welcome, famously boycotting the Indian Wells tournament for 14 years after her family was the target of racial slurs from the crowd. But she paved the way for emerging stars like Naomi Osaka and Coco Gauff.

Her on-court fashion statements, from catsuits to denim skirts, helped to popularise tennis with a younger, streetwear-savvy audience. She famously collaborated with the late designer Virgil Abloh’s Off-White and appeared in emotional Nike advertisements focused on women’s empowerment.

Williams also changed the business of being a female athlete. Not satisfied with multi-million-dollar endorsement deals, she became a businesswoman in her own right with a namesake clothing line and a venture capital fund.

”I have never liked the word retirement,” Williams told Vogue. “Maybe the best word to describe what I’m up to is evolution. I’m here to tell you that I’m evolving away from tennis toward other things that are important to me.”

Learn more:

Serena Williams: The Champion’s Mindset

In the first in-depth interview about her new, self-funded brand, the world-class tennis player talks to BoF about her love of fashion, her previous challenges in the space and how on-court successes and setbacks have helped prepare her for entrepreneurship.

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