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Serena Williams is being honored as ‘fashion icon’ at fashion’s big awards night

The fashion industry’s equivalent of the Oscars will be held at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan and hosted by Anne Hathaway

Serena Williams
Serena Williams and her husband, Alexis Ohanian.ANGELA WEISS (AFP/Getty Images)

Serena Williams will be honored at Monday’s Council of Fashion Designers of America awards for her career and contributions to American fashion. Williams, who retired from tennis last year, is the first athlete to win the CFDA’s Fashion Icon award. In addition to her groundbreaking tennis career, she is being honored for her work as a designer herself, as an entrepreneur and as a philanthropist.

The fashion industry’s equivalent of the Oscars will be held at the American Museum of Natural History in Manhattan and hosted by Anne Hathaway.

When Williams, now 42, retired from tennis, she said she needed to make the tough choice to focus on motherhood. She gave birth in August to a baby girl, almost exactly a year after her last match as a tennis star. Adira River Ohanian is the second child — and second daughter — for Williams and her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian. Their first, Olympia, was born in 2017.

Williams was making news in fashion well before her retirement from tennis. In 2018, she launched her “S by Serena” clothing line, and in 2019, a jewelry line. In a statement before the event, designer and current CFDA chairman Thom Browne called Williams “one of the most inspiring people in the world ... representing greatness on the highest level.” She has been, Browne said, “the ultimate example of individuality in everything she does” and “a true fashion icon.”

In her own remarks, Williams said that ever since she 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 added: “My dream of owning my own brand, S by Serena, has become a reality ... I have had so much fun learning my style and allowing it to change as my life has evolved, but I’ve always held one thing true: Fashion is for everyone, no matter your size, race, or income.”

The CFDA awards are presented by Amazon Fashion. Last year, Kim Kardashian was honored for her shapewear line and used the occasion to call for designers to be inclusive of all body shapes.

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