It certainly doesn’t hurt to have friends in the right places, and Serena Williams has Meghan Markle, the Duchess of Sussex, as among her closest friends. The tennis champion has recently opened up about the so-called Meghan Effect and its impact on her clothing line, the eponymously named “Serena”.
Williams didn’t go into specifics but it’s safe to say that with the Duchess of Sussex’s fashion clout, it’s a positive impact. After her engagement to Prince Harry, the Duke of Sussex, the Duchess’s growing fashion influence has made bestsellers of nearly everything from blazers to gowns. Many royal watchers even go as far as saying that she has eclipsed the star of Catherine, Duchess of Cambridge!
Markle recently wore Williams’ oversized “boss blazer” when she went on a royal tour in Australia last October 2018. Said blazer is now among the bestselling items on Williams’ fashion label and pundits are speculating that her line is experiencing brisk sales from the unofficial endorsement.
In an interview, Williams briefly discussed about Markle’s influence on her creative decisions regarding her fashion line.
She said, “It’s so fun because people are like, ‘Oh my God. Like wow, the quality is crazy.’” She told her team that, “We have to make sure it’s super high quality that…it’s fit for a royal princess!”
She has even reportedly designed the Royal Duchess Cropped Hoodie in honor of the Duchess of Sussex, and she sent one to the royal, too. The hoodie sells for $90 and comes in black and blue, and its description – Designed by, and fit, for a queen – is a direct reference to Williams’ inspiration. Williams has promoted it, too, via several Instagram posts with Nicki Minaj.
But even Williams has practiced discretion by not sending Markle the entire line because “some of that stuff is” not appropriate, such as the color-block pants.
Williams is the founder and chief executive officer of the direct-to-consumer brand, as well funding it out of her personal funds. She admitted that it was her dream since she was a teenager and she’s worked on its development for nearly three years.
Serena’s first collection consists of bold and bright basic items including the aforementioned boss blazer. The tennis legend ensured that the line offered inclusive sizes to appeal to a wide range of wearers, and it’s obviously part of the brand’s growing appeal.
Williams has also launched Great, a collection of occasion pieces designed for plus-size women who want clothes that made them feel fabulous and fit. The Great clothes were also designed to be versatile in terms of being suitable for the gym and then for date night later in the day. According to Williams, the company started from scratch since they “wanted to do this the right way” instead of bringing a subpar collection to the market.
The sizes are offered up to 3X – the brand eschewed the term “plus” and “plus size” since these weren’t exactly flattering or uplifting. The Great collection are available at Neighborhood Goods, a Dallas, Texas-based concept shop, and it’s a decision in line with Williams’ idea of combining high-end materials with more affordable prices.
As Williams says it in her own words, “When I want a quality shirt, I go to a higher-end department store and it’s going to be, like, $495.” But her clothes have the “exact same quality” but the prices are “under $200.”
Williams doesn’t offer activewear due to sponsorships particularly her partnership with Nike – her contract apparently doesn’t allow her to directly compete with the sportswear giant. But it doesn’t seem to be a big deal for Williams, and it’s understandable considering the market saturation for these products.
Serena, the brand, has two lines. The first offers athletic wear and athleisure for Nike and the second focuses on less sporty but more fashionable pieces. While both lines are relatively new, these have been fairly successful, said success being attributed to the high-quality, moderately-priced pieces as well as the star power of Williams and Markle.
Serena, according to Williams, is “inspired by femininity and strength”. The collection brings these two qualities together, just as Williams herself is known for being a strong, empowered and powerful woman in her own right. The collection also features empowering words, such as “be greater”, “royal”, and “slay”, embroidered on the fabric.
Williams and Markle’s friendship have become stronger through the years. They first met in 2010 during a post-Super Bowl party and they have supported each other since then.
During Markle’s wedding to Prince Harry at St. George’s Chapel in Windsor, Williams and her husband, Alexis Ohanian, attended the star-studded event. Williams has also thrown a lavish baby shower for Markle.
The tennis star is more open about her personal relationship with the Duchess of Sussex than many of the latter’s friends but is also known for her discretion.