Serena Williams gets special Virgil Abloh kicks from Nike


Credit: David M. Benett/Getty

JEnnis legend Serena Williams could play in the last US Open of her career, as she prepares to face her big sister Venus in the third round tonight. So the 23x Grand Slam champion received a really nice gift from Nike – a bunch of custom Air Force 1s.

Serena uploaded a video of herself opening different sneaker boxes, but the one inspired by Abloh was the one that meant the most. They use a green and purple pattern, with his name written on it.

“Oh my God, it’s nothing less than the Virgil outfit. I loved Virgil so much and I still love him,” she said before acknowledging that the pale purple colorway pays homage to the lavender tutu that she wore during the 2018 US Open match where she beat Germany’s Carina Witthoeft.

All of the sneakers represent memorable moments in his career, with one pair even in denim paying homage to his appearance at the 2004 US Open.

Earlier this year, Serena took part in the Off-White 2022 Fall Show to honor Abloh. But she wasn’t always so sure of herself to rock her visions. “Virgil was so much more than a collaborator, he was a friend, an innovator. I would really love to wear the beautiful skirt he made me in 2018. You saw it before me Virgil, we will keep your legacy alive,” Williams wrote on her Instagram last June.

“I always regret a little not having done what Virgil told me to do”, she repeated in a short film for vogue. “He wanted me to wear this long skirt with the crazy train, then a cape with a train, and then step out onto the field. And I think, ‘Virgil, I love fashion, and I love pushing boundaries, but this – I don’t think I can do this.'”

But Abloh praised Williams in a 2018 interview with As if, calling him “one of the most powerful and inspiring athletes of our generation as a muse”. The pair collaborated on a special collection with Nike called “Queen”.

“I was trying to embody his spirit and bring something exciting and fresh to tennis… What I love about tennis is grace. It’s an aggressive and powerful game, but it takes touch and finesse,” added the late designer. “So the dress is feminine, but combines its aggressiveness. It’s partly revealing. It’s asymmetrical. It has a sort of ballerina silhouette to symbolize her grace. It’s not about bells and whistles and tricks. It’s just about living on the body and expressing Serena’s spirit with every stroke of the racquet.


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