While the 2022 US Open could be the last time Serena Williams takes to the court in a Grand Slam, her impact on the sport is far from over.
Throughout her 30+ year career, Williams has used her platform to break down barriers for female athletes. And with the help of Nike, it will only continue.
For example, Nike and Williams created the Serena Williams Design Crew design apprenticeship program in 2019 to promote diversity in design and create a new generation of design talent at Nike and beyond. In January 2020, the first group of young talents visited the brand’s headquarters in Beaverton, Oregon, and worked for six months to produce footwear, apparel and accessories inspired by the tennis icon in the worlds of performance and lifestyle products. Since then, the program has only moved forward.
Tanya Hvizdak, vice president of global women’s sports marketing at Nike, told FN that Nike currently has 13 apprentices in the program in Williams’ hometown of Compton, California.
“Serena is extremely passionate about design. And she’s also passionate about bringing opportunities to groups that may not necessarily have access to these platforms. And through our partnership, she saw an opportunity to give designers, young people, passionate about this space, the opportunity to work with an incredible organization and uplift them. A new group of diverse individuals in our organization are allowed to really help push and bring new ideas and experiences into this space,” Hvizdak explained.
Williams was also instrumental in launching one of Nike’s most important platforms in years, The Nike Athlete Think Tank. Through this initiative, athletes are able to provide unfiltered feedback on their unique journeys and the changes they wanted to see regarding the financial aspect of creating access to sport, inclusion and community efforts, among other topics.
“She was part of that first inaugural crew. And that really laid the groundwork. I am delighted to say that we are in our second cohort. And Serena has expressed interest in continuing to be involved,” Hvizdak said.
Last month, Williams covered the September issue of Vogue where she announced her plans in a verbal essay with the magazine. “I’m here to tell you that I’m moving away from tennis, into other things that are important to me,” she said.
Hvizdak is excited about what the future holds. “What’s most incredible is that she transcends the sport. The number of decades and generations she’s been able to impact is just amazing. And I think what she’s going to continue to bring will have even more impact. And she talked about that a bit when she was talking about her retirement and how excited she is about what Serena’s evolution means,” Hvizdak said.
Hvizdak added that the tennis star’s authenticity and authenticity have bonded with consumers over the years and continue to do so today.
“Serena is so integral to the push we’ve seen. She’s showing what’s possible, whether it’s Serena Ventures or the SWDC, she continues to shatter glass ceilings. And that’s where you see us as a brand that continues to build. We continue to say that sport has the ability to move the world forward. And in Serena, she exemplifies that.