There are two ways to look at all the matches that Serena Williams has ever competed in. Most obviously, they stand as some of the greatest tennis ever played—lightning serves, ground strokes with the power of ocean currents, a forehand as formidable as her double-handed backhand. Williams herself, though, sums them up in exactly one word: hearts. “I am obsessed with hearts,” she says. “If you go back and look at photos, pretty much all my matches—99% of the time—you see me wearing some sort of heart necklace.”
If you do go back, you also notice that she is wearing necklaces and earrings, bracelets and rings—all manner of accessory, in fact—with an enthusiasm that might make the layperson wonder: How do you accessorize like that when you’re competing at a kind of outer-space level? Not a problem, according to Williams. “I remember a long, long time ago I wore this diamond star ring on my right hand that everyone looked at and was like, ‘How do you play wearing that?’ ” She’d purchased it at 17, her first self-bought piece. “It wasn’t anything super-fancy—it had a really interesting shape; it almost looked like a starfish, but with four arms instead of five. But it was fine. I’ve always worn crazy jewelry on the court—massive rings, diamonds, necklaces. I mean, most people like jewelry, but I love jewelry.”
It will come as no surprise, then, that Williams’s new line—called, simply, Serena Williams Jewelry and on sale starting this month—includes hearts, along with rings, bracelets, and necklaces, a diamond-encrusted dog tag, and diamond earrings that spell out SEXY as well as LOVE, the words broken in two. There are 70 core pieces, ranging in price from $299 to $10,000, and as much as the line is a dream come true for Williams, it’s also practical: As she’s allergic to a lot of metals, she wanted pieces designed with real gold or silver but still “price-friendly.”
She was remembering this the other day while driving around Palm Beach, Florida, and wearing five pieces from her new line: a diamond necklace, another necklace with sexy spelled out in diamonds, and some signet rings. She’d had them on nonstop for a week or so, having just flown in from New York and before that L.A. (“I’m a little bit everywhere”), and she was saying that her collection is also about travel—about the sort of pieces that might easily move from a baccarat table in Monte Carlo to takeout café con leche in Miami’s Little Havana, or “on the red carpet and the tennis court,” as she puts it. “You don’t have to change pieces, but you can add pieces—something more bold, or more strong, or even something with a word on it—even if it’s a more delicate piece. It’s just about expressing yourself.”
How involved was she in the design process? “I’m not a jewelry designer,” she says, “but I spent hours looking at every single piece. I’d say, ‘Let’s change the chain on this’ or ‘Let’s do a herringbone here’ or ‘Let’s do more of a classic look for this or a different finish for that.’ ” What’s her jewelry mood at the moment, generally speaking? “Right now I’m loving anything with a frosted look, like the AP watches I’ve been wearing lately. I also love layering delicate little necklaces because by themselves they’re subtle, but when you add a few you’re making a statement. I also love layering my thin bangles with tennis bracelets—when you don’t have to stick to one style or one piece, it allows for more freedom, which I love.”
While cruising through Palm Beach, she was also remembering her greatest accessory inspirations: her mother, Oracene Price, who favors gold; her four sisters; her grandmother; and her aunt. “Their ability to play with accessories and use different statement pieces has always had an influence on me,” Williams says. Though her mother favors gold, bangle bracelets and hoop earrings are a theme for all of her relatives. “It’s amazing how each of us are influenced by each other—yet our style remains unique,” she says.
Williams intends to keep the family tradition moving forward: Her husband, Alexis Ohanian, has proven himself to be skilled at gifting inspirational jewelry to her. But nobody, it seems, knows her accessories game quite like her sister Venus. “She definitely doesn’t miss,” Serena says. “Anything she gives me, I love.”