Serena Williams has played in 423 Grand Slam matches and has won 23 Grand Slam titles. And in that space, she has managed to change the game, not just with her records, but with her outfits as well.
Williams has been known to bring fashion onto the court, and over the years, we’ve seen many other players following suit. She has shown that, in many ways, tennis is more than just a game.
As a tribute to one of the greatest athletes of our time, we’re running it back to some of our favorite Serena Williams outfits through the years.
You never forget your first
Serena Williams made her US Open debut when she was only 16 years old. And even though she was one of the youngest players in the tournament, she did not let that stop her from sporting a statement.
In the early days of their careers, Serena and her older sister Venus were known for walking onto the court with colorful beads in their hair. Although many misconstrue this as a simple fashion trend the Williams sisters were onto, Venus herself actually gave insight into the meaning behind the beads.
On an Instagram post, she wrote in the caption, “When @serenawilliams and I wore our iconic beads, we didn’t wear them to be different, we wore them because they were a part of our heritage. Beads are a typical style for African American children.”
Her US Open debut look will always be her most iconic in our eyes.
Y2K at its finest
Another one of the early Serena Williams outfits we’re still obsessed with is her look at the 2004 US Open. Though she lost in her quarterfinal match against Jennifer Capriati that year, she definitely won best dressed.
If anyone came up with the idea of mixing sportswear and streetwear together first, it must have been Serena Williams. Who else would show up to a major Grand Slam in nearly knee-high tennis shoes or a denim skirt?
A vision in pink
If there’s one color that packs a punch in any of the iconic Serena Williams outfits, it’s definitely pink. On multiple occasions, Serena has worn outfits either completely pink or with accents of pink. And each time, they are always as bold as she is.
In the 2004 French Open, she girl-bossed her way all the way to the quarterfinals wearing this bright outfit. She definitely didn’t get outshined by the bright orange of Roland Garros’ clay courts. The big pink hoops were our favorite little detail.
In the 2016 US Open, she also sported the same shade, but in a new way. With the hot pink accents on her sleeves and her skirt, Williams showed that she knows how to play with color and shake things up, even 12 years later.
Jazzing up a classic
Wimbledon is known for one thing: the dress code. All the players competing in Wimbledon are required to wear all-white outfits throughout the entire tournament. It definitely makes it look like the classiest of the Grand Slams, but it doesn’t leave much room for creativity.
Or does it?
In 2008, Serena wore a white trench coat on the court. Sounds ridiculous, especially considering Wimbledon’s typical sunny weather. But, the trench coat she wore was specially made out of a lighter fabric that she was able to warm up in.
This wasn’t the only time she showed up to Wimbledon in a head-turning outfit. In last year’s tournament, she walked onto the court with a long white train, looking pretty much bridal-ready.
Even though she had to withdraw from the tournament after a leg injury, she can’t say that she didn’t make her mark in the competition.
The comeback outfit
Serena made her first Grand Slam appearance since giving birth at the 2018 French Open. And she wanted to honor that in her own special way—with an outfit, of course.
Inspired by the Marvel movie Black Panther, the 23-time Grand Slam champion showed up to Roland-Garros looking like a “warrior princess” herself. She dedicated her performance and the look to “the moms out there who had a tough recovery from pregnancy”.
After the tournament, the French Tennis Federation banned the outfit and other similar looks as well. The President, Bernard Guidicelli, said it was because “you have to respect the game and the place.”
The ban did nothing to stop the bold Serena Williams outfits from coming onto the court.
Cut one open
Following the “ban” on her outfit from the 2018 French Open, she went on to the US Open wearing a tutu instead. And nobody could get over the entire look.
The asymmetric top is unique on its own, but pairing it with the tutu, fishnet tights, and the contrasting white Nikes—it was a whole vibe. Not to mention how letting her right arm free showed off those toned arms.
Three years later, Serena played with the asymmetric look yet again, but with a different take. At the 2021 Australian Open, she wore something even more out-there than her controversial French Open look.
The one-legged asymmetric bodysuit was a step above. Adding in the bright colors, and you have a perfect window into the tennis star’s method of self-expression. In the world of tennis, no one is quite as courageous or game-changing as Serena Williams herself.
Finally, we have her most recent, and quite possibly her final look from the 2022 US Open. Though at first glance, the outfit seems a lot simpler than many of her previous Grand Slam outfits, this ensemble is more elaborate than you might expect.
The dress was inspired by the outfits worn by figure skaters. The skirt originally had six layers—one layer for each of Serena’s US Open titles. The US Open will always be the 23-time Grand Slam champion’s most memorable tournament. Not only is it her home court, but is also where she won her first Grand Slam title.
The embellishments on the bodice of the dress also “place Serena in the spotlight” according to Nike. And to make her shine even more, she added some sparkle to her hair too.
With everything that Serena has done in her career, she hardly needed an outfit to make her shine. But wearing this onto the court for her final three matches in this year’s US Open was an homage to the 24 years since she made her debut.
After 423 Grand Slam matches, countless highlights on the court, and her iconic (sometimes controversial) looks, Serena has proven that she is more than just a tennis player. She is a designer, a game changer, and an inspiration.
She went from wearing beads in her hair to wearing encrusted diamonds all over her. And she deserved every single diamond that represented how she shined both on and off the court.