Serena Williams for Berlei
Taking to the court today in Melbourne for the first round of the Australian Open, world number one tennis player Serena Williams says she’s pumped to be back in Australia and is ready to challenge anything her opponents serve at her.
We caught up with Williams on set while she was shooting a new campaign for Berlei and discovered everything from her pre-game workouts and thoughts on gender equality to her love of discovering a good bra.
Welcome back to Australia, Serena. You’re here for the Australian Open as well as shooting your new campaign with Berlei. Tell us about how you first discovered the brand.
When I was a teenager, I think I was around 13, my mum suggested I try these bras called Berlei. Mum told me the bras would help with my movement and will eliminate bounce. I was willing to give them a go. I tried them and from then on whenever I came to Australia I’d buy like 50 (truthfully!). The brand heard about my experience, they knew it was something I’m not just smiling and putting my name to it, but something I actually use every single time I do sport – 340 days out of the year. The collection this year had so many fun colours and blingy features. I’m also really feeling the new style of racer-back bras coming in. The crop top is also making a big push this collection.
Your on-court style is always on point. How far in advance are your outfits planned and do you choose them yourself or work with a stylist?
I’ve planned and just finished designing up to summer of 2017 with Nike. For my court style, we work way in advance but I don’t plan too far ahead for my looks off the court. We’ll see some of my fun designs on the court in the future. This year is especially cool.
Who do you look to for style inspiration?
I don’t look to a person, I actually look at culture because when I design my collections we reference a lot of pop culture. Mixing classic lines from the ’50s with something more modern – we always try to work in classic lines to pop culture and design.
Talk us through your pre-game prep. Do you have a playlist or pre-game snack you swear by?
I really try not to do the same thing every time I prep for a game so it never becomes repetitious. I make sure I have a really good warm-up before my match and I usually eat two hours before.
What’s your idea of a healthy snack and a guilty pleasure?
Ah, I could tell you a guilty pleasure! Okay, my healthy snack would be popcorn. I usually still have a little butter and salt on mine and that’s still kind of in the healthy line. A little salt… who am I kidding! My guilty pleasure is anything that’s not baked. I like anything that’s been fried! I haven’t been eating bad lately though; I’ve been on this mission to stay healthy and I’m taking it really seriously.
Last year you were named the Sports Illustrated Sportsperson of the Year, the first individual woman to get that accolade since 1983. How did that feel?
It’s something I’m really proud of, not just for myself but for women in general. The accolade went from Sportsman of the Year to Sportsperson of the Year. It’s something I’d been working on for about 20 years – all because I felt women should have opportunity to win that award, too.
You’re a fierce supporter of gender equality. Do you think that there’s still a problem with sexism in sport?
I play in a sport where I’m actually on the Players’ Council, so I’m involved in the politics. There are a lot of times where they’ll put numerous men’s matches on and only one or two women’s matches. And then, they have all the other matches on smaller courts. We always have a battle; let’s give and take, let’s try to get equal, and let’s try to do it. This has been happening for years but we’ve been taking strides forward – they haven’t been jumps but they’ve been strides. We’re happy with that to keep going at a steady pace just to keep it going forward. So there obviously is some disparity on the gender side, but I think we’ve come a long way when you consider that women weren’t able to vote in America and only got the right not too long ago.
What’s your secret to success on and off the court?
Honestly, I think just being humble. I try to always stay humble on and off the court. I’m never better than anyone else and I think I was just able to be successful from that.
What are your goals for 2016?
My goal is to have fun because I’m at this point in my career where I don’t need to do anything else, I don’t really need to win anything, but I’m still travelling and playing some of the best tennis of my career. I want to take this opportunity to have so much fun when I’m out there on the court and I tend to play better when I’m enjoying myself.
What do you do to relax after an important match?
Okay, don’t laugh but I download The Golden Girls and I just watch it. I’ve seen every episode like five times. It just relaxes me and makes me go to sleep because it’s so funny; it’s just the most hilarious show.
Do you shop online and, if so, what are your favourite sites?
Oh my gosh, do I shop online? That’s all I do now! If I need something I just go online. My favourite shop is actually Amazon. I shop for a lot of things, so it’s just the best one-stop shop.
What do you like about coming to Australia?
I have a lot of friends here so it’s the only place where I will hang around town if I lose the tournament early. I just have so much fun here visiting everyone. I only get to see them once a year so it’s like, “Ah, I don’t want to leave.” It’s great.
Do you like Melbourne or Sydney better?
I’m not saying this just because I’m in Melbourne now but I really like Melbourne better. Perhaps it’s because I’ve had a lot of success here with the Australian Open so I only have great memories. Sorry Sydney.
Where is your favourite place to play in the world and why?
Probably anywhere in the United States is where I really enjoy playing, because it’s home. Australia is also a favourite Slam because the tournament does such a good job for the players. The Players’ Council goes over and beyond to make all the players happy.
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