How Serena Williams Became a Branding Tour de Force With Fierce Ambitions Far Beyond the Court

The tennis superstar is Adweek’s 2018 Brand Visionary

Serena Williams has nearly 11 million followers on Twitter, 10 million on Instagram and more than 5 million on Facebook. Photographed for Adweek by Micaiah Carter at Hudson Yards Loft. Hair: Ursula Stephen; Makeup: Renny Vasquez; Styling: Veronica Garrote; White dress: Chiara Boni/Saks Fifth Avenue Bal Harbour; Earrings: Isabel Englebert at Vibe Edition

Serena Williams’ signature move has always been to display grace under pressure, to pivot away from the mundane toward the metaphysical, to plant her feet firmly in her most inspired authentic self. And so it came as no surprise that a couple of days after her disappointing loss to Naomi Osaka at the 2018 U.S. Open, she seemed remarkably unfazed by all the drama that had unfolded some 48 hours earlier. As she sat for a photo shoot and interview with Adweek in a Hell’s Kitchen loft in Manhattan, this year’s Brand Visionary thoughtfully reflected on her victories off the court.