Her Campus Logo Her Campus Logo
Style > Fashion

The Legacy of Serena Williams in Sportswear

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Casper Libero chapter.

Serena Williams started in professional tennis in 1995. As one of the greatest tennis players of all time, she has used her personal side to promote herself and brake down barriers of race, age, origin and mainly demolish the old tennis dress codes. She is also known for her physical strength, technical skills and relentless competitive mindset. With 23 Grand Slam titles in her career, she is a true legend of the sport.

Transcending tennis, Serena is a symbol of black and female representation, inspiring girls from all over the planet to pursue a career in sport. Her successful career and amount of achievements do not hide the story of overcoming that Serena had to go through, which after years was portrayed in the movie King Richard: Creating Champions, launched in 2021. 

The beginning of her relationship with fashion

At the age of 18, Serena took a break from her tennis career so she could pursue another passion of hers. The goal was to combine the two things she loved: tennis and fashion.

Serena and Venus for Harper’s Bazaar via @serenawilliams on Instagram

Over the years she has worked with countless brands responsible for creating incredible looks for her. Furthermore, she and her sister Venus, played an important role in bringing braids into the sport.

The iconic outfit at the 2004 US Open

Williams became known throughout her career for her ability to mix activewear with street style, like the outfit she wore in the 2004 US Open Championship. Serena chose a mini denim skirt that featured neon stitching and plenty of pleats. The full outfit was completed with a Nike sweatband and wristband that matched her top. 

To Vogue, she said: “ I think of all of the outfits I wear and they say: ‘What’s your favorite?’. This one is always in the top three. I remember telling Nike: ‘If I’m switching to you guys from Puma, I wanna more pizzazz’. And I said ‘I love Andre Agassi. He wore jeans shorts, I wanna wear a jeans skirt’”.

Serena during US Open 2004 via @timeneverlieschico on Instagram

In addition to the iconic outfit, the shoes also meant a lot to her. “ This amazing designer’s name was Owen. He designed the best shoes I’ve seen in my life. When this outfit debuted I was sealed as a fashion icon in tennis and since that day everyone has always been looking for ‘What is Serena gonna wear on the court?’”, said the player. 

The ballet tutu at the Roland Garros 2018 competition

At the Roland Garros competition in Paris in May 2018, the French Tennis Federation banned the use of the attire she used to play with. The president of the federation told Tennis Magazine that he intends to be more strict with the athletes’ dress code.

In addition to the victory over Poland’s Magda Linette, the tennis player rocked an all-black outfit created by Louis Vuitton‘s artistic director, Virgil Abloh. The one-shoulder dress included a full tulle skirt. She paired the look with fishnet tights and white sneakers.

The outfit that was banned and caused controversy was a jumpsuit that was produced by Nike with a technology that had the function of helping circulation and preventing clots, since she had just come out of a pregnancy. This outfit was called “Black Panther” by her. 

Serena for Nike via @gqbrasil on Instagram

The statement from the French Open organization created controversy on social media, generating questions about the extent to which a tournament director has influence in vetoing an athlete’s clothing.

The power and influence continues

After organizers said they would ban the stretchy suit, Williams supporters chanted “foul.” Serena commented to the Associated Press: “When it comes to fashion, you don’t want to be a repeat offender.”

That moment showed that the tennis player “could use fashion to disrupt the status quo”, said Katie Lebel, a researcher on gender equity in sport and assistant professor at the University of Guelph.

Lebel also added that: “Sexism has been very widespread when it comes to women’s clothing. The expectations around what female athletes should look like were particularly steeped in this. Serena was against all of this. I think she really rethought the standards for women in tennis.”

After announcing her retirement in 2022, the tennis player entered fashion entrepreneurship by launching her brand “WYN“. In an interview for Byrdie, Serena said “beauty has always been part of my life, from the court to the red carpet”. 

“WYN is an extremely personal endeavor. It’s a brand that involves my great love for makeup, and the entire collection represents me a lot.”, explained Williams about her new brand.

Serena for her own brand, WYN, via Instagram

While Serena has dominated tennis for more than two decades, she also has other gifts and things to focus on. But her representation and legacy of what she meant on the court fighting for diversity, racism and other social issues will never be forgotten.


The article above was edited by Manuela Miniguini.

Liked this type of content? Check Her Campus Cásper Líbero home page for more!

Her Campus Placeholder Avatar
Amanda Alves

Casper Libero '27

Me chamo Amanda, tenho 18 anos e sou fascinada por esportes desde pequena, minha relação com isso começou praticando desde cedo várias modalidades e me apaixonando cada vez mais. Hoje não sou atleta e descobri uma nova paixão que é o jornalismo, realmente sinto que estou no lugar certo e me sinto muito bem, adoro escrever e contar histórias que as pessoas não sabem, informar as pessoas e discutir assuntos, principalmente de futebol que é minha principal paixão. Eu pretendo por conta disso me tornar uma jornalista esportiva, com ênfase no futebol e amo meu clube de coração que é o Corinthians. Me dedico cem por cento assistindo partidas de futebol para acompanhar cada detalhe.