When she’s not dominating on the tennis court, both on her own and alongside her sister Venus, Serena Williams keeps herself busy. She runs her charity, the Serena Williams Foundation, endorses brands such as Nike, and designs attire for her personal line sold through HSN. And though she’s typically clad in an athletic skirt combo, the tennis icon is a self-proclaimed fashionista who uses any chance she gets to express herself through clothing. That, however, doesn’t always mean she’s rocking a designer ensemble or high-end accessories. “Whenever I’m off the court, all I want to wear is a onesie,” the athlete admits with a laugh. “Is that weird?”
Williams and her sister restored a run-down tennis court in their hometown of Compton, Calif., so we caught up with the tennis superstar there to discuss her impressive twerking skills, thoughts on female empowerment, and advice to young girls in the wake of Donald Trump’s win.
Yahoo Style: What inspired you to refurbish tennis courts in Compton?
Serena Williams: Venus and I made it because of a public court, so resurfacing these courts in Compton was so great. Sitting there and seeing the court made me think, I wonder what would have happened if I had these types of courts when growing up.
Why is it important to encourage more youth get involved in sports like tennis?
Sport does a lot for young people, especially nowadays. I feel like it not only does a lot to build confidence, but it gives them something to do, and it helps them to be able to stay active. I think it’s really important getting our youth out there and getting them more educated and trying to better the community. These courts are so much better than what my sister and I played on. [Laughs]
Speaking of encouraging youth, America’s girls need to be pumped up today more than ever.
Yeah. Sadly so! Now is more important than any time to be there for young girls and to be able to offer advice that can boost their spirits. It’s a really difficult time right now.
What would you say to young girls out there, especially in the face of this current presidential election and its aftermath?
My message would be to just stay positive and encourage each other. Now is the time where girls and women in particular really need to stick together. If one girl is doing great, give her the confidence to continue to do great. It’s great to be competitive, but it’s also great to be able to support each other.
How would your life be different if you hadn’t found sports?
I think sports obviously really changed my life and catapulted me to an opportunity to do so many amazing, wonderful things. I really don’t know what I would be doing without them. I didn’t take that left turn. I took that right turn, and it’s kind of hard to say. But I do think I wouldn’t be who I am today, and I wouldn’t have an opportunity to influence people and just inspire people. And I think overall, that is really important.
In addition to tennis, you’re also exceptionally gifted at twerking. Who taught you?
I have to credit that to videos and YouTube. I’ve been doing it for years. It’s been renamed “twerking” I guess. It used to be called something else. It’s definitely not new.
So you were the little girl mimicking dance videos in your parents’ living room?
Maybe not as a little girl, but definitely as a young adult. I was definitely playing a lot of tennis when I was younger.
What was it like performing with Beyoncé on her “Formation World Tour”?
It was absolutely amazing. I never thought I would be doing something like that. But it was so cool. It was an experience of a lifetime, for sure.
How do you top that?
You spend so much time wearing tennis dresses and workout attire. Do you have a lot of fun playing around with fashion off the court?
I have a lot of fun playing with fashion on the court and off the court. For me, fashion is one of my second jobs, something that I do a lot. Between my current clothing line and starting another one, it’s a lot of work. But it’s a lot of fun. It’s intoxicating work.
What is the first thing you want to put on when you get a day off from tennis?
The first thing I want to put on is definitely a onesie. Is that weird? It’s just so comfortable. It’s so cozy. It’s like the best of both worlds with that thing. I live in it. That’s all I want to put on!
I just saw a photo of you wearing a pretty fabulous green onesie through LAX the other day.
Yeah. Sadly so. That’s how I’m living! [Laughs]