Game, set, match
Now in its second year, Nike and Serena Williams’ innovative design apprenticeship program – the Serena Williams Design Crew (SWDC) – is getting results. Inaugurated in 2020 to promote diversity in design and establish a new generation of talent, the six-month initiative draws together groups of talented individuals from specific US cities as a design collective; focusing on New York in year one and Chicago in year two.
Each year the SWDC apprentices work together to produce a collection of footwear, apparel, and accessories inspired by Serena. And this year’s apprentices are serving us a bumper line-up that draws on 90s nostalgia – the era Serena made her professional debut. Here, pieces push technical sportswear in new stylistic forms, as Serena has consistently done on-court. Cutouts and panelling emphasise the right shoulder, Serena’s serving arm, while a geometric print pays homage to the woven patterns of West Africa Kente cloth and a double zero motif represents Serena’s love of tennis and her daughter’s initials, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
On foot, Nike’s Air Max Koko sandal is reinterpreted with a detachable calf-heigh sleeve, taking inspiration from Serena’s iconic 2004 US Open look – remember those killer trainer-slash-boots? – while Nike’s Air Force 1’s come wrapped in ribbons emblazoned with Serena’s championship years.
“The change I’m hoping to create with Serena Williams Design Crew comes from a place of authenticity,” says Williams. “When it comes to design, I want people from all walks of life to have the opportunity to be in the room. I’m so grateful to Nike for believing in the opportunity to find talent in new and different ways.”
The US Tennis icon then discusses her views on style: “[It’s] as much about how you want to feel as it is about how you want to look. Fashion is such a fun and impactful way to express your personality: who you are and what you love. I like being different – on and off the court – finding what works best for me and then taking it to the next level. I hope with this unique collection everyone can feel that same way too.”
The collection will be available from 1st September 2021 – just in time for this year’s US Open.