Serena Williams’ New Game

Tennis ace Serena Williams is also a style-world superstar. Here, she reveals her newest venture into the world of nail care.

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Appeared In
Special Issue
Beauty Inc issue 12/10/2010

Serena Williams is an undeniable force on the tennis court—and off. Williams partners with HSN on a collection of accessories and clothing called Signature Statement, is a spokeswoman for Mission Skincare and recently unveiled a collaboration with OPI on the Glam Slam series of nail shades that will be released in conjunction with the next four grand slam tournaments. Her future plans include expanding her apparel repertoire, starting a chain of nail salons (she recently went to cosmetology school for manicuring) and building a school in Senegal for underprivileged children. André Leon Talley affirmed her fashion cred by choosing her as his Fashion’s Night Out date, and designers curry favor with front-row runway show seats. But Williams isn’t done adding to her tennis trophies, which now include 28 singles titles. Here, the champ chimes in on her career in and out of tennis, her passion for painted nails and her bodacious bod.

We hear you are a manicure-pedicure fanatic. True?

I am. Before I started manicure school, I got them done every four days. I bit my nails, and the only way I didn’t bite them was to get them done often. Since I have done it since I was little, I decided to go to school for it. School is really intense. It is totally different than anything I have ever done. It is artsy and crafty. I am excelling at the artsy stuff that I didn’t think I was able to do.

This story first appeared in the December 10, 2010 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

How did you create the colors for OPI, and what’s your favorite color?
When you do a collection, you have to do it in advance and make sure it is going to be in style. Thank goodness I have a fashion background, because I was able to look up different fashion and nail trends. OPI came up with this great concept where you put on a nail polish and it actually cracks and it looks like a completely different design that takes hours to do.

Do you want to start a nail salon chain?
I’m actually in the process of doing that. It’s something that I’ve wanted to do since I was younger. Whenever anyone in the family wanted their nails done, they always came to me.

What is your beauty regime before a match?
I have to do my hair, which takes a while to make sure it is perfect. I always have my nails done. If I’m playing a grand slam, which is two weeks, I redo my nails before the second week. I always have my hair done with a lot of hair spray and put on my infamous hair band.

How would you describe your approach to beauty?
I definitely like simple and clean. If you were to see me on an everyday basis, I don’t wear makeup. Although if I am doing something easy, I will put on some mascara and concealer—just a little.

Is there a connection between beauty, sex appeal, power and sports?
Definitely. Just because you play sports doesn’t mean you have to be masculine and look like a male athlete when you are not. I have a voluptuous body. Sometimes, I don’t know how I play sports with some of the things on my body. You don’t see any top athletes with my physique. Usually, they are not as curvy as I am. That being said, I think everyone can be sexy in their own way and bring sex appeal.

So I take it you like your breasts?
Couldn’t live without them.

How do you nurture your mind, body and soul?
Meditate. That is not something I do every day, but it is something I have been trying to do every day, even if it is five or 10 minutes.

What’s your multitasking secret?
I can’t focus on doing one thing. I have to have different things going on. For me, if I do one thing, I feel that I am not reaching my peak. I feel like more is better.

You’ve become a front-row staple at fashion shows. What is it about fashion shows that you love?
I like them. I go to see what I can do for my own fashion line and what are the latest styles and trends. I’m one of those people who is taking notes at the fashion show.

What’s on your notepad?
A lot of doodling. A lot of different designs. Right now I am designing for a dance group, so I’m making onstage outfits, which is something that I have never done, but I love it. I get to experiment. It is a new group called Sally and Jane, and they dance really hard to different songs.

What show has been your favorite?
I really enjoyed Rodarte. I was inspired by the elements they use like wood and different kinds of things. The show itself was sick.

Are tennis and your various fashion and beauty endeavors similar or different?
It is similar because it takes a lot of discipline to do both. For me, it is about completing each task the best that I can. I like being the best at what I do and jumping from tennis to doing fashion is cool, but…it is totally different work. You have to come at it as a junior. I have never done this before and hopefully people like it. There are going to be critics. It is like starting over after you have completely made it.

Do you take criticism well?
You can’t take things personal. It is all about having an open mind. You should look to critics and say, “What can I do to be better, whether it is design or being a better businesswoman or being a better boss?”

You’re still getting over a foot injury, right?
I’m on the injury list. I am on the way to recovery, which is never easy.

When are you returning to the court?
Hopefully soon. I literally can’t wait to get back.

When do you think you will leave tennis and take up your outside ventures full time?
When I’m ready. I’m definitely not ready now. Especially when you are injured and sitting out, you realize how much you miss your main job. I love it. More than anything, I love winning.

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