Serena Williams outfit for Roland Garros was more than just a sport outfit. Her black bodysuit, produced by NIKE, was meant to inspire women who were recovering from a pregnancy. Williams launched her own clothing line this week, the day after winning at the French Open in a sleek black catsuit.
Williams has undoubtedly redefined how a tennis player should behave – and dress. The catsuit, she said, made her feel like a warrior princess superhero from Black Panther’s homeland Wakanda.
“For all the moms out there who had a tough recovery from pregnancy — here you go. If I can do it, so can you.” The 36-year-old suffered from post-birth complications due to a blood clot, and her skin-tight bodysuit serves as a functional solution to keep her blood circulation steady. She explained to the BBC’s Saj Chowdhury how a form-fitting bodysuit can be practical during a match.
“I had a lot of problems with [blood clots]—I don’t know how many I have had in the past 12 months,” she said. “It definitely has little functionality to it. It’s a fun suit, but it’s also functional so I’m able to play without any problems.”
Her tennis outfit is part of a fashion line she has launched. She launched a 12-piece collection on her own terms – through her own website – and announced the launch on her own Instagram page. She describes the range as “for women who stop at nothing”, promoting it with the hashtag #BeSeenBeHeard. When a big multinational uses empowering language to sell clothes it can feel trite. With Serena, it feels authentic. So, too, does her inspiration, her nine month daughter.
“Ever since [giving birth to] Olympia I was like, ‘Okay I have a daughter, I want her to feel good about herself.’ She is strong already, so I want her to feel beautiful and I want to spread that message through the collection,” she told Harpers Bazaar.
Charlie Brinkhurst-Cuff, on the Guardian said the decision to go in fashion is a “shrewd business move as she returns to tennis, 16 months after her last grand-slam winning tournament where she played while three months pregnant. Her personal brand has never been so strong – and even the tabloids seem to have stopped painting her in such a negative light for being a black woman who dares to have a strong voice, personality and body frame. Apart from anything else, this latest move from Williams shows that her life has always been about more than tennis. It’s about pride, passion, blackness, empowerment and fashion, too.”