Essence magazine will feature tennis pro and fashion designer Serena Williams on September’s Global Fashion Issue ahead of her show at New York Fashion Week this year. The magazine announced that its upcoming issue will reveal a redesign and take “audiences on a world tour of Black creatives from fashion and art to culture and business.”
The September issue will profile Williams in a piece called “The Future of Serena Williams.” In it, Williams discusses motherhood and the launching of her own clothing line, S by Serena, in 2018.
“My biggest joy is that I know that I’m doing something that I’ve always wanted to do, that I always dreamed of doing,” Williams told Essence. “I just needed to do it on my own. Because when you invest in yourself, it helps your confidence, and you’ll know forever that whether you make it or not, you stepped up to the plate.”
The entrepreneur, activist, and mother will grace the cover sporting face paint by Nigerian-born, Brooklyn-based artist Laolu Senbanjo. She will also be featured in a photo spread shot by photographer Kwaku Alston and styled by Essence Fashion Director Marielle Bobo.
“We are beyond ecstatic to have Serena Williams — one of the most photographed women on the planet — to be the muse for our September Global Fashion issue,” Essence Chief Content and Creative Officer MoAna Luu said in a statement. “This issue promises to be one of Essence’s biggest with a fresh new redesign.” This is the executive’s first September cover.
Luu said that the issue called on Black creatives from around the world, including visual artist Laolu “who gave us Serena’s stunning face painting for the cover.” Senbanjo and Alston did not respond to The North Star’s request for comment about the photoshoot.
According to Essence, the September issue will also launch the magazine’s Best in Black Fashion Awards, which recognizes critical figures moving fashion forward in design, photography, styling, and modeling. Five sisters bringing diversity to the behind-the-scenes arena in fashion will be featured in the #BlackWomenIn profiles and global influences will be showcased in The Cool Girl Guide series.
The issue will arrive just weeks before the winner of 23 Grand Slams presents her S by Serena line at New York Fashion Week in September. The fashion line will have a 24-hour runway-to-retail option available on September 10, according to The Root.
Williams, who did clothing collections with the Home Shopping Network (HSN) and Nike, launched her fashion line in May 2018. It features messages of self-love and confidence, and allowed her to be her full creative self, Williams told Women’s Wear Daily (WWD) last year.
“I’ve never been fully creative, so that’s what this is. I’ve always been limited,” she told WWD. “I’ve done things for HSN but I’ve always been limited, with the customer and with the fabric selection; [there were] things I couldn’t do. They gave me so much knowledge, though, and so much practice and so much training. And with Nike, obviously there are so many things I can’t do.”
Williams spent two years at the Art Institute of Fort Lauderdale and said she has always dreamed of working in the fashion world.
“I’m doing something that I’ve always wanted to do, that I always dreamt of doing. I went to fashion school back in the early 2000s. This was something that just didn’t pop up for me,” she said in her latest interview with Essence.
Williams told the magazine that she wants her fashion brand to reflect inclusivity. The brand recently introduced an extended size range, though Williams said she does not welcome the term “plus.”
“We want to be inclusive. We have an extended size, and we call it great because I don’t like the word ‘plus,’” she said. “So we call it S Great because every woman is great.”
The sports superstar also opened up about the importance of standing up for herself and being completely unapologetic. “Freedom means standing up and not being afraid to say ‘I’m here’ or ‘Hear my voice’ or ‘This isn’t what I agreed to’ or ‘This isn’t fair and that isn’t right,’” she said.
“I’ve done it my whole career. It’s knowing where I’ve come from, knowing my history, in particular, the sport that I’m in. When I first started, there weren’t a lot of people who looked like me. So it was really important to always help other people feel as if this is something they could also be a part of.”
The issue is set to hit stands on August 16.
About the Author
Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various venues, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.