“I’m terrified of cats and my husband just got one,” says Serena Williams. We’re chatting over Zoom about her new jewelry partnership with Zales when slowly, the furry pet approaches the tennis champion. Despite 23 Grand Slam titles and a lifetime of empowering female athletes around the world, she’s visibly startled. While few can relate to the G.O.A.T, it’s humbling to know she has a slight ailurophobia. “All I can see is a tiger.”
But fear is not something Williams is known for, on or off the court. Her mogul mindset includes Nike sponsorships, a fashion label S by Serena (which debuted during NYFW in 2019), and even a venture capital fund called Serena Ventures that “invests in companies that embrace diverse leadership, individual empowerment, creativity, and opportunity.” Her inclusive empire truly knows no bounds, and she’s expanding even further with Serena Williams Jewelry. No stranger to diamonds—just look at Williams on every red carpet—her eponymous jewelry brand is meant to inspire its wearer with meaningful statements like “Unstoppable” and “Queen,” i.e. words of encouragement we wish we could hear from Williams herself.
Post-cat scare, ELLE.com talked with Williams about her partnership with Zales (which will be the exclusive U.S. retailer of Serena Williams Jewelry starting August 24), how her daughter Olympia’s tennis lessons are going, and more.
What made you want to partner with Zales?
It was literally a dream partnership. I actually have been a longtime customer of Zales. In fact, there are some rings I used to wear on the court and they became my winner rings. I got so many compliments on them. It’s just been this long relationship. I always start with an end goal and then I have work to get to that goal. When I started the Serena Williams Jewelry collection, one of my goals was to be in Zales. That was really exciting to be able to reach it.
Do you have a favorite piece from the collection?
It’s so hard because I love the “Unstoppable”—it’s been such a great staple for us. But also I really love the word pieces. Those are the ones I always wear around the court, like “Great” or “Queen”, just small little reminders of “yeah, I got this.”
Are there any similarities between getting ready for a photo shoot versus a tennis match? How do you mentally prepare?
Honestly, shoots are usually easier. You don’t have to break your neck or your leg.
Your engagement ring is a stunner. Did you have a hand in choosing it?
Well, behind the scenes, my husband wasn’t supposed to know about it. But yeah, I told my friends, “Okay, this is what I need in case anyone ever asks.”
Did your style change at all once you became a mom?
No. It’s so interesting, my style has always been trendy, but with classics. I love trends, but I don’t want to be like, “Man, remember the 2000s? Everyone looked like that.” With trends, I always try to add something classic, so it really blends well. That’s been my idea and my method for a really long time.
What are some of your favorite looks right now?
We’ve been stuck at home for so long and I’ve been going super comfortable. It’s been just this whole comfy phase. But now people are getting out, or they were getting out, and then you had to have really amazing outfits. And now I’m like, “I’m going to stay in again.” So maybe a going-out top, or a staying-in bottom?
You and your daughter often wear matching outfits, and you’ve said before that she’s your mini-me. Is there anything she does that’s completely unlike you?
She’s talkative. I’ve never been the most talkative person. She definitely did not get that from me, but everything else, yes. She’s very tenacious and she has this incredible spirit, too much [laughs]. But literally, she’s a carbon copy of myself. She gets overly frustrated. We all know I get frustrated.
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How are her tennis lessons coming along?
You know, I don’t know if she’s too much into tennis, but it’s something to do. I’m just like, “Stay active, let’s get up, let’s do something!” That’s another thing—I definitely like to stay more active than she does. I have her in everything from gymnastics to ballet, tennis. What else? That’s it so far.
People are feeling stressed out by the current state of the world, which is taking a toll on their mental health. In order to take care of your mental and physical well-being, what would be your ideal day of self-care?
My perfect day would be a really nice pedicure, probably a facial, and sitting down on the couch and just binge-watching a whole season on TV. It’s been over a year and a half since I’ve gone somewhere for a pedicure. Those are the best places, and I really miss them.
Serena Williams Jewelry will be available on August 24 online and in Zales stores nationwide. The 60-piece collection includes necklaces, earrings bracelets, and rings set in 10k gold and sterling silver, some with diamond accents. Prices range from $129 to $9,999.
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