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Tennis Legend Serena Williams Honored as ‘Fashion Icon’ at Prestigious Fashion Awards Night

Serena Williams, a tennis legend who retired from the sport last year, achieved a remarkable milestone in the fashion industry by becoming the first athlete to win the coveted Fashion Icon award. She captivated the glittering fashion audience with a heartfelt speech about her journey and the role fashion played in her life, beginning from her childhood and throughout her public career. For Williams, the tennis court served as her runway and a means of self-expression.

Williams, who attended the CFDA Fashion Awards in Manhattan, New York City on November 6, 2023, graciously accepted the Fashion Icon award from the Council of Fashion Designers of America. She revealed, “I knew when I was a little girl that I was different, so I explored fashion and style as a way to distinguish myself.” She continued, “In many ways for me, the tennis courts became my runway, and the U.S. Open was my own New York Fashion Week.” Williams explained how reimagining traditional tennis outfits allowed her to express her individuality, confidence, and, most importantly, her culture.

Notably, Serena Williams retired from tennis last year, making her the first athlete to receive the Fashion Icon award. This prestigious accolade was presented to her by Kim Kardashian, who herself was a CFDA honoree the previous year. Kardashian described Williams as “fearless, heroic, authentic, iconic — the greatest of all time.”

The CFDA awards, often likened to the fashion industry’s equivalent of the Oscars, took place at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan. The event was hosted by Anne Hathaway and featured the recognition of top designers in various categories. Catherine Holstein of the label Khaite was named womenswear designer of the year, while Willy Chavarria received the award for menswear. The accessories category honor went to Ashley Olsen and Mary-Kate Olsen of The Row.

In addition to Serena Williams, other notable personalities were acknowledged at the event. Gwyneth Paltrow received the Innovation award for her lifestyle brand, goop. Vanessa Hudgens presented a tribute to Vera Wang on behalf of the CFDA board of directors, recognizing her impact on the bridal industry. Designer Maria Cornejo was honored with a lifetime achievement award, presented by Laura Linney. A special tribute to the 50th anniversary of hip-hop was featured, including a short film by director Hype Williams, introduced by Mary J. Blige and featuring music by Pharrell.

Serena Williams, now 42, retired from tennis to focus on motherhood, giving birth to her second daughter, Adira River Ohanian, in August. During her speech, she fondly recalled her creative expressions on the tennis court, where she designed unique outfits and embraced her individuality.

Williams has also made her mark in the fashion industry, launching her “S by Serena” clothing line in 2018. She expressed her intention to inspire women to embrace their bodies regardless of their size, race, or income.

In her speech, she acknowledged her mother for sewing her first tennis outfits, which ignited her creativity and passion for fashion. The CFDA awards, presented by Amazon Fashion, recognized several other notable figures in the industry, including Alina Cho, Domenico De Sole, Mara Hoffman, and Jonathan Anderson.

For more updates stay tuned to FELA News!

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