Serena Williams Talks Design With Nike’s Mark Parker

Serena Williams and Nike's Mark Parker
Tennis great Serena Williams discusses sneaker designs and materials with Nike CEO Mark Parker.
Nike

Serena Williams, on the cusp of winning all four major tennis tournaments in a single season, is as widely known for her risk-taking on-court fashion as she is for her devastating ground strokes.

It’s only fitting, then, the tennis ace opted to reveal a behind-the-scenes look at how she develops some of her more memorable styles — long after her eyebrow-raising 2002 cat-suit collection with Puma. (Want to see the best U.S. Open on-court trendsetters? Click through our exclusive gallery.)

The 33-year-old player, who has been a Nike-sponsored athlete for more than a decade, recently sat down with the Beaverton, Ore.-based company’s CEO to talk about her love of designing and partnerships.

“I love my relationship with the [Nike] designers,” Williams said in a statement. “It isn’t just, ‘When I see you.’ It’s more like, ‘Let’s have a collaboration, 365 days a year.’ That’s unique. I’ve been able to develop a wonderful relationship with Mark Parker. Having an opportunity to see inside his brain, his designer background and learning about him are things that I’ve always been inspired and influenced by.”

Williams has long been a designer in her own right. The world’s No. 1-ranked player said she began sewing cloths for her dolls as a child and later was a fashion-design student at the Art Institute of Florida.

Serena Williams Sketches for Nike Tennis star and designer? Williams, sketching a skirt look here, has worked the drawing pad since she was a child. Nike

 

Williams’ design talent is on full display in the recent debut of NikeCourt’s the Greatness Collection.

“My relationship with the brand has always been great,” said Williams. “I value having an opportunity to be hands-on with the Serena part of the company, from start to finish, and I feel like I’ve grown with Nike.”