Celebrated Tennis Icon Serena Williams Recognized as ‘Fashion Icon’ at Premier Fashion Industry Event

by Andrew Wright
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Serena Williams Fashion Icon

At the grand awards night of the fashion world, tennis champion Serena Williams shared with the illustrious crowd from the fashion realm how she embraced fashion as her preferred medium of self-expression throughout her time in the spotlight, with her presence on the tennis courts paralleling the catwalk.

“From a young age, I realized I was unique, which led me to explore fashion and style as avenues to assert my individuality,” Williams expressed upon receiving the Fashion Icon accolade on Monday from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. She further noted, “For me, the tennis courts were akin to fashion runways, with events like the U.S. Open becoming my equivalent of New York Fashion Week.” For Williams, redefining the conventional tennis attire was a method to manifest “my sense of self, my boldness, and most significantly, my heritage.”

Last year marked Williams’s retirement from professional tennis, and she stands as the inaugural athlete to be bestowed with the Fashion Icon award. The award was presented to her by last year’s recipient, Kim Kardashian, who lauded Williams as “dauntless, exemplary, genuine, iconic — the epitome of excellence.”

The fashion industry’s gala, often compared to the Oscars, took place at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan, with Anne Hathaway presiding as host. In the category of premier designer awards, Catherine Holstein of Khaite garnered the womenswear designer of the year title, while Willy Chavarria triumphed in the menswear division. The accolade for accessories was awarded to Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen of The Row.

Additional commendations included: Gwyneth Paltrow, who received the Innovation award for her 15-year-old lifestyle enterprise, goop, with the presentation made by Demi Moore. A CFDA board of directors tribute to Vera Wang was delivered by Vanessa Hudgens, recognizing Wang’s influence on the bridal sector. Maria Cornejo received a lifetime achievement award, bestowed by Laura Linney.

The evening also paid homage to the 50th anniversary of hip-hop with a brief documentary by filmmaker Hype Williams, introduced by Mary J. Blige and accompanied by music from Pharrell.

Upon retiring from her illustrious tennis career, Williams, now aged 42, spoke of the difficult decision she made to prioritize motherhood. She welcomed her second daughter, Adira River Ohanian, in August, nearly one year following her final tennis match. Adira is Williams’s second child with her spouse, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian; their first daughter, Olympia, was born in 2017.

In her remarks, Williams reminisced about her journey of creative expression on the tennis courts, recounting, “I designed denim skirts and donned purple tutus and bodysuits, adorned my hair with beads and braids—it was a truly joyful era for me.”

Williams, who studied fashion amidst her tennis career, launched her clothing brand, “S by Serena,” in 2018. In her address, she described her brand as a source of inspiration for women “to embrace their figures and love themselves, irrespective of their size, ethnicity, or economic status.”

In a series of heartfelt acknowledgments, she reserved her final gratitude for her mother, “who crafted my initial tennis garments when I was a child.” Observing her mother’s sewing, Williams said, “instilled in me a creative spirit that endures to this day.”

The CFDA awards, sponsored by Amazon Fashion, also recognized others: Alina Cho received a media award, Domenico De Sole was honored with the founder’s award, Mara Hoffman received a sustainability award, and the international award was conferred upon Jonathan Anderson for his work with JW Anderson and Loewe.

Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs) about Serena Williams Fashion Icon

Who was honored as a ‘Fashion Icon’ at the CFDA Awards?

Serena Williams, the tennis legend, was recognized as a ‘Fashion Icon’ by the Council of Fashion Designers of America.

Which tennis legend launched their own clothing line in 2018?

In 2018, Serena Williams launched her clothing line, “S by Serena,” which aims to inspire women to love themselves regardless of their body size, ethnicity, or financial status.

What is Serena Williams’s relationship with fashion in her tennis career?

Serena Williams has used fashion as a form of expression on the tennis court, treating it as her runway to showcase her individuality and culture through unique outfits.

Who presented Serena Williams with the Fashion Icon award?

Kim Kardashian presented Serena Williams with the Fashion Icon award.

Which event is considered the fashion industry’s equivalent of Oscar night?

The CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) awards event is considered the fashion industry’s equivalent of Oscar night.

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