Serena Williams reflects on the evolution of her longstanding partnership with Nike and Nike, Inc. President and CEO Mark Parker.
Serena Williams has been a Nike athlete for over a decade, but her tennis and design passions first collided 20 years prior. As a three year old, the world’s number one female tennis player was taking her first on-court swings and sewing clothing for her dolls. Years later, she developed her skills as a fashion design student at the Art Institute of Florida. Then, she began a hands-on collaboration with the Nike design team, delivering sketches and inspiration to help guide their designs. With the recent completion of her second Serena Slam and the debut of NikeCourt’s the “Greatness Collection,” Williams completes her evolution from athlete and designer to champion and muse.
“I love my relationship with the [Nike] designers,” Williams proclaims. “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 really 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.”
The resulting Nike designs for Williams have taken signature tennis style to a new place and similarly evolved the athlete’s involvement with Nike. “My relationship with the brand has always been really great,” Williams explains. “I value having an opportunity to be really hands-on with the Serena part of the company, from start to finish, and I feel like I’ve grown with Nike. I started out in more of a designer phase and now I’m growing into more of an inspirational phase.”