Like the rest of the world, Serena Williams’ usually hectic travel schedule has been mainly derailed by the pandemic. And while she’s cherished her time at home in Florida with her husband and daughter Alexis Olympia, that isn’t stopping the tennis great from dreaming about when she can once again visit far-flung places — and she’s bringing her fans along on her fantasy trip.
Today, Williams will unveil her latest collection for Away, the luggage and accessories brand, with a colorful campaign where she and pieces from the line are superimposed in front of reimagined landmarks such as the Trevi fountain, the Eiffel Tower and Miami’s South Beach.
This is her second line for the brand and the campaign is intended to help travelers get ready for when they can travel safely again. The Away x Serena Williams collection includes polycarbonate suitcases, bags and accessories featuring a custom print intended to reflect Williams’ style. A kids’ carry-on, pet carrier and packing cubes are offered along with new silhouettes including a convertible backpack tote and a jewelry sleeve.
“I can’t remember a time when I haven’t needed to jump from city to city for tennis and work, and I’ve come to cherish this extra time at home,” Williams told WWD. “Spending time with my family is when I am at my happiest, and while ‘work from home’ has its own set of challenges, I focus on keeping a schedule and routine to make sure I can juggle everything.”
Since the pandemic shut down most sports and travel some 10 months ago, Williams said she’s mostly been staying at home. “My daughter and I love to use our imaginations to go anywhere we want from the comfort and safety of our backyard. The zoo has become our new favorite place ‘to go.’ This time has really allowed us to connect and play together, so I am very grateful.
“We had a lot of fun with this idea when doing the photo shoot for this collection. We really playfully re-created some of my favorite cities using backdrops, props and even a kiddie pool. While stuck at home, it’s been really fun to get creative and figure out new ways to satisfy our wanderlust.”
But Williams continued to train even during the sports shutdown.
“I have a natural drive that keeps me going day in and day out. Whenever the competitions return, I’ll be ready. Plus, I’ve found fun ways to train with my daughter, and she’s already got a pretty good serve!”
After six months, Williams, who is chasing the singles Grand Slam record, returned to limited competition last year, playing a tournament in August in Lexington, Ky., followed by the U.S. Open in September, where she lost in the semi-finals. She also made the trek to Australia this month for that country’s Open.
“As a competitor, I am thrilled to be back on the court, but I’m naturally very cautious about my health. Strict protocols and safety measures are in place at tournaments [to ensure they are] as safe as possible, and personally, I’m taking every precaution I can to stay healthy.” Williams has a history of blood clots and pulmonary embolisms and was on bedrest for six weeks before giving birth to her daughter in 2017.
So in addition to competing and quarantining, Williams also found time to design the collection for Away, a brand she’s admired for some time, and first partnered with last February. “I fell in love with Away long before we decided to become partners. I need luggage that is versatile, functional, and stylish, so I knew Away would be able to bring my vision to life.
“For the last collection, I focused on creating bold interiors, designing a vibrant camo pattern, coupled with a bold red exterior. For this collection, my goal was to bring that same ‘wow factor’ to the exteriors. The colors and prints in the collection were inspired by my travels — specifically, the beautiful blues and greens of the ocean and the intricate details of architecture in Rome.”
Williams believes the end result is that the collection “strikes the perfect balance between function and style. Versatility is important to me, so we included bags like the Convertible Backpack Tote and the Front Pocket Sling Bag that can be worn or carried multiple ways. Traveling as a family is also top of my mind, so there is a Kid’s Carry-On and a Pet Carrier included in this collection as well. There’s really something for everyone.”
Williams said she hopes the collection “will hopefully inspire people to get excited for their future travels. Like many people, I’ve been dreaming of the world opening back up, and this collection is already inspiring me to plan some new adventures when it’s safe.”
Looking ahead, Williams said she’s “always working on something and I’ve managed to stay very productive during quarantine. There are definitely a few things coming up for me, but nothing that I can share just yet.”
The Away x Serena Williams collection launches Jan. 28 on the brand’s e-commerce site as well as at its stores.