Up Close With Serena Williams: Her Travel Obsession And Her Latest Side Hustle

Serena Williams Jewelry

It’s a crisp fall day in New York City, and tennis star Serena Williams is ensconced in the Grant Penthouse Suite at the Mark Hotel. Yes, the same suite where she cohosted friend Meghan Markle’s baby shower earlier this year. The glamorous 10,000 square-foot suite—which goes for a cool $75,000 a night and happens to be the largest hotel suite in the United States—is a fitting location for the debut of her new jewelry line, simply named Serena Williams Jewelry. Her well-traveled daughter Olympia is in one of the suite’s five bedrooms (“We go everywhere together,” says Williams).

Williams’s jewelry line is the latest project from the first-ever athlete to hit Forbes’ annual list of the World’s Richest Self-Made Women. A budding entrepreneur, Williams has lately been exercising her business arm, between Serena Ventures—an investment firm where she focuses on companies founded by women and minorities—and a new fashion line, S by Serena Williams.

As she walks through her jewelry line, which was designed in collaboration with global diamond manufacturer K.P. Sanghvi and features lots of hearts, she talks about her inspirations. “On the court, I’ve always worn hearts from the moment I started until today. I just have this obsession with wearing a heart when I perform,” says Williams. “So I wanted to build a collection and start with that.”

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Are hearts her good luck symbol? “I’ve worn hearts since my first Grand Slam. I don’t believe in good luck, but I feel like every athlete lies when they say that,” she says. “As much as I try not to be superstitious, there’s a little part of you that can’t help it. So I’ve always worn hearts since then.”

Williams says that she was also inspired by strong and powerful women around the world. “I love meeting and seeing women in Paris—how they dress and how they approach style—versus women in London and how they approach style and even the choices they make in restaurants,” says Williams. “I love observing all of that and being conscious of how women dress and what they’re wearing, either on their neck or on their body.”

The collection of 70 core pieces ranges in price from $299 to $10,000. There are ID necklaces and ID bracelets that spell out words like “great” and “winner” and “queen.” There are diamond-encrusted tennis bracelets (naturally). And in keeping with Williams’s spirit, the earrings are totally empowered, with designs ranging from lightning bolts to the words “se-xy” and “lo-ve” (broken in two for each ear) to a drop design called “attitude.” Scattered across everything: diamonds and more diamonds—ethically sourced and conflict-free, of course. “Diamonds are always a good travel companion,” says Williams.

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Indeed, travel has played a large part in the jewelry line—and in Williams’s life. “If you can’t tell, I love Paris in this collection,” says Williams, who has been known to bling it up while playing tennis. “That inspires me.”

Since Williams likes to wear jewelry both on the court and whenever she’s traveling, she has made sure to design pieces that work well on the road. “These pieces are easy to travel with,” she says. “You can wear them on a long trip.”

That will come in handy, given Williams’s love of travel. Williams met her husband, Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, in Italy at the Rome Cavalieri hotel, where they later got engaged. Their first date was before the French Open in Paris. They took a babymoon in Tulum, Mexico. Their wedding was in New Orleans. Their honeymoon—with baby Olympia in tow—was spent at the private island resort, Kamalame Cay in the Bahamas.

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Other recent trips have included Disney World for the opening of Galaxy’s Edge (“Being a crazy Disney World fan, I’ve literally been waiting on this moment since I was pregnant,” she says) and the Maldives, where she vacationed at the Waldorf Astoria Maldives Ithaafushi. And then there was that time that Ohanian took her to Venice for dinner just because she said she was in the mood for Italian food. On her bucket list? The Seychelles, the far-flung archipelago off the east coast of Africa.

Williams admits that she gets antsy when she’s not on the road: “I have grown to love traveling, and when I’m home for more than two weeks, I get bored and feel like I need to go somewhere.”

[“source=forbes”]