Serena Williams Makes History as the First Athlete to Win CFDA Fashion Icon Award

With the latest honor, the tennis icon proves she’s a record-breaker on and off the court.
Serena Williams poses in a floor-length black gown, pearl necklaces and a pearl headband.

Serena Williams.

There’s no denying it, Serena Williams can do it all. In between defending her numerous Grand Slam titles and breaking records on the tennis court, the athlete managed to attend fashion school, seeking to break into clothing design and fulfill a long-time passion.

With a degree and a desire to empower others “to look and feel their absolute best,” according to her website, Williams launched her first fashion line in 2018, S by Serena. Her schooling and iconic branding has also resulted in several collaborations with Nike. Just a few months ago, she released her Design Crew Collection with the company, featuring vibrant colors and patterns and sporty chic designs.

Now, with proven design experience—both independently and collaboratively—the icon will receive one of the highest honors in the industry. In a historical move, the Council of Fashion Designers of America (CFDA) announced Williams as the recipient of the 2023 Fashion Icon award on Oct. 11. It will be the first time that an athlete wins the award, and another record-breaking honor for the tennis star to add to her résumé.

In a statement that the CFDA released from the new mom of two on Instagram, Williams credited fashion with bolstering her self-confidence. “Ever since I was a little girl, I’ve used fashion as an outlet to express myself—fashion gave me the confidence to step on the court and own who I was, and where I knew I was going,” she said. It is a principle which likewise governed her in the creation of her own fashion line—a desire to make fashion for everyone and in which everyone can feel confident.

Just as in her tennis career, Williams has set and exceeded all expectations in her design pursuits. The honor is well-deserved, and Williams will receive her award during a ceremony and gala dinner held in New York City on Nov. 6.

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Martha Zaytoun


Martha Zaytoun is a Lifestyle & Trending News writer for SI Swimsuit. Before joining the team, Martha worked on the editorial board of the University of Notre Dame’s student magazine and on the editorial team at Chapel Hill, Durham and Chatham Magazines in North Carolina. When not working, Martha loves to watercolor and oil paint, run or water ski. She is a graduate of the University of Notre Dame and a huge Fighting Irish fan.