Tennis legend Serena Williams hailed as ‘fashion icon’ at fashion industry’s biggest awards night

Author: Jocelyn Novick

AP National Writer

NEW YORK (AP) — Tennis legend Serena Williams tells a fashion audience how fashion became a popular form of expression as she grew up in the public eye, and the tennis court was Her runway.

“Ever since I was a little girl, I knew I was different, so I explored fashion and style as a way to differentiate myself,” Williams told American Fashion Designers on Monday night Association’s Fashion Icon Award. “For me, in a lot of ways, the tennis court became my runway, and the U.S. Open was my own New York Fashion Week.” She said reimagining traditional tennis clothing became an expression of “my personality and My confidence and, most importantly, my culture”.

Williams, who retired from tennis last year, is the first athlete to win the Fashion Icon Award, which was presented to her by last year’s CFDA winner Kim Kardashian. Kardashian called Williams “fearless, heroic, authentic, iconic — the greatest of all time.”

The fashion industry’s equivalent of Oscar night took place at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan and was hosted by Anne Hathaway. Among the top designer awards, Khaite’s Catherine Holstein was named womenswear designer of the year, while Willy Chavarria won the menswear designer award. The accessories award went to Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen of The Row.

Other honors included: Gwyneth Paltrow accepted the Innovation Award from Demi Moore for her 15-year-old lifestyle brand goop. Vanessa Hudgens paid tribute to Vera Wang from the CFDA Board of Directors for her impact on the bridal industry. Designer Maria Cornejo received the Lifetime Achievement Award, presented by Laura Linney.

There is also a 50th anniversary tribute to hip-hop with a short film by director Hype Williams, with an introduction by Mary J. Blige and music by Pharrell.

When Williams, now 42, retired from tennis, she said she needed to make the difficult choice to focus on motherhood. She gave birth to a baby girl in August, almost exactly a year after her last match as a tennis star. Adira River Ohanian is Williams’ second child and second daughter with her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian . Their first child, Olympia, was born in 2017.

In her speech, she spoke in depth about how she learned to express her creativity on the court. “I styled the dress out of denim, wore a purple tutu and leotards,” she said, “and had beads in my hair and braids. It was a really fun time for me.”

Williams, who studied fashion during her career and launched her “S by Serena” clothing line in 2018, said in her speech that the purpose of the line is to “inspire women to embrace their bodies and love who they are, no matter what they are.” What is your body shape, race or identity.” income. “

Among her many thanks, she saved the last one for her mother, “for making my first tennis outfit when I was young.” She said, watching her sew, “In my It created this creativity in me that I still have to this day.”

CFDA Awards are presented by Amazon Fashion. Other honors: Alina Cho won the Media Award, Domenico De Sole won the Founder’s Award, Mara Hoffman won the Sustainability Award, and the International Award went to Jonathan Anderson for JW Anderson and Loewe.

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