Well Played, Serena Williams


One of the reasons I love the Olympics is because it’s a giant reminder that being a strong, muscular, athletic woman is a glorious thing, and that the human body is capable of so much more astounding and aspirational things than trying to fit in sample sizes and going on juice fasts and racing to lose your baby weight in three weeks. It’s like an ode to achievement over pure aesthetics (although the aesthetics are nothing to sneeze at, obviously). That’s one of the reasons I’m fond of the Williams sisters, too — sure, Serena’s temper can overwhelm her common sense sometimes, but she rocks every hard-earned muscle.

Also she’s a total fox. Sometimes she can crazy it up with her clothes, but when she gets it right — like she does here; this ENTIRE thing slays me in the best way — she commands the room. Or the sidewalk. Or the famed Letterman dumpster:

That thing is like, “Would somebody PLEASE wheel me out of this photo? I don’t stand a CHANCE here.” I hope a lot of girls saw her sweep tennis gold in singles and doubles in the same DAY — just like she did at Wimbledon a month ago — and watched the Team USA soccer players and gymnasts and sprinters and swimmers and trackers and fielders and whatnot, all of whom are fierce and powerful and dedicated, and said, “Someday.”

[Photos: Splash, WENN]

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Comments (82):

  1. ak

    Love everything about this post. An ode to female ferocity AND a talking dumpster.

  2. Bella

    She looks amazing!

  3. ljm

    I would give my right ovary for hair like that. She is beautiful.

    • nikole

      that hair can be bought in several beauty stores across the US

      • Helen

        You absolutely can buy hair like that, but, looking closely, I think we might just be seeing her own for a change. If not, the weave artist is worth his/her weight in GOLD.

        Either way, Serena looks dynamite, and I’ve always thought she had a beautiful face, so it’s especially nice to see her in all radiant glory like this!

        Another non-fan of the shoes who thinks nonetheless that they do work on her, here, with this outfit.

  4. Sue

    Wow wow WOW. She’s stunning. What a body.

    The front of those shoes look like bedazzled gondolas, but she’s working it.

    • Melly

      I hear they cost $4K, those shoes that only Serena Williams in that dress with that hair could pull off so fantastically.

  5. Julia

    Heather, well played to YOU on this post. Seriously. I want to print it out and look at it every time I go to the gym.

    • Other Meredith

      Ditto. I felt very inspired while watching the Olympics, and the feeling had started to fade a bit. Bam! Re-energized by this awesome post to be a strong, tough lady. I’m going to go home and work out.

      • Bagbo

        Same here. I was inspired to work out even though I was eating a Double Stuf Oreo as I read. It takes some powerful inspiration to overcome Double Stuf.

    • Kit

      Was coming here to say this!

    • sugarleg

      AGREED! thank you Heather for such an effortlessly thorough assessment of all things Serena, fashion, healthy bodies, woman power, Olympics ALL OF IT! this makes my day.

  6. robin

    fierce badass!

  7. val.

    She looks amazing, but those shoes are kind of drag queen-esque. I don’t dig them.

  8. Chasmosaur

    Wow. That’s all I can say to this. When she gets it right, she really is such a stunner. And I really love her hair like that.

  9. Stefanie

    Wow. Just Wow.

  10. Lindsay

    i saw this photo on a celeb gossip site and the comments were totally negative and stupid (variations on the she’s-a-dude theme). i think she look gorgeous here. totally feminine, but like she could kick your ass in a hot minute if she needed to.

  11. Megan

    I can totally see why David Letterman was basically speechless when she was on-air with him. She looks AMAZING!

  12. Evalyn

    Wow. From all that hair to the crazy/wonderful shoes. Of course there are people bad mouthing her; she’s strong, she’s beautiful and she’s successful on many many levels. All that makes some people nervous. I say, “Go , Serena. You give us all something to shoot for. Thank you.”

  13. Jules

    She looks incredible here. I’m so sad for her that the US flag blew away during her medal ceremony. Also sad for her that people feel the need to call her a dude. Please. I wish she WOULD kick all their asses in a hot minute. People are just so overwhelmed by others’ awesomeness and their own lack of it, that they have to try to tear the awesome ones down. As they say, “Haters gonna hate.”

  14. Miranda

    Great dress, great hair, great everything. But when oh when will the hooker shoe trend die?? I am tired of watching these poor women walk in glorified hooves.

    • Arlene

      Amen, sista!

    • Kate

      Totally agree!

      I think from the ankles up that this is the BEST she’s ever looked. Seriously. This is perfect. It shows off her body in a way that makes her look super feminine yet strong. I think she sometimes goes too girly with her outfits, which clashes with her physique – but this is excelllllleeeent.

      Then you scroll down and she’s got hooves on… Sparkly hooves but still hooves. These shoes would be awesome if there was only a teensy little platform (like 1/2″ or less) or none at all.

    • Rubee


  15. Francesca

    She looks hot, hot, hot! And she looks like she knows she looks hot, hot, hot. The pattern on the shoes is great, but the shoes themselves look like they were designed by the blacksmith who shod the Clydesdales.

  16. bam bam

    oh my god her body is so awesome i just want to go eat tubs of ice cream AND get on the treadmill for six years at the same time. what a bodacious body.

  17. Carolina Girl

    Thank heavens she seems to be dressed for the body she has. In the past she has sometimes looked as if she choose her clothes thinking that she had a different body than she actually has, but she nailed it here. The shoes are a bit aggressive for my taste, but since she kept everything else to a minimum I don’t mind them too much.
    Well played, indeed!

  18. Alison

    Love all of it. The hair, the colors, the shoes. Love.

  19. Kara

    I read those shoes are $4000 Christian Louboutins. I don’t really dig them, but everything else is great. Her body is BANGING. Look at her butt in the second photo!

  20. Billie

    That ass is amazing. J.Lo has nothing on her! It is great to see athletes out there. That is one of the reasons I love the Olympics so much! So very rarely do you see athletes playing for the mere game of Sport and Achievement, not million dollar contracts.

    I played sports my entire life and what it has provided for me in positive self image is priceless. I hope all little girls want to push themselves in that manner. Go her for being a great role model for the youngins .. temper and all. Because we’re all only human.

    • casey

      Yay! I loved this post and I love this comment – I played sports as well, and now I’m encouraging (okay, forcing…) my teenaged daughter to stay with sports as well. It is amazing what a difference it makes when you love your body for what it can do, rather than worrying so incessantly about how it looks.

      By the way, now that I’m older, I practice yoga every day for the exact same reason – I highly recommend it :)

      And yes, Serena looks AMAZING- totally rocking it (although yeah, don’t really dig the shoes but who am I to say?)

    • mochaleet

      I don’t follow sports but I’ve been dancing for a long time and feel the same way about that world. Contrary to people thinking it’s like “Black swan” dance (and sports) makes you see the human body in a completely different way. I’ve seen bigger girls, thinner girls and everyone in between look amazing because of their ABILITY, not because they’re sticky and tiny and whatnot. In fact personally i think heavier women look better when they dance, because their limbs have more impact. So go dance! That’s my two cents.

  21. Tall and Salty

    My college roommates had a picture of her (and, in particular, her amazing behind) taped up on the wall next to our door for motivation when we were heading to practice. She rocks.

    Additionally, this post totally rocks. Well played, Heather.

  22. flitzy

    Holy Shite, BEST EVER for her. Bravo.

  23. Edith

    She looks fantastic, and yes, she’s dressing for her (amazing) body. The color is fabulous, too, but what I REALLY love here is her haircolor. She looks so awesome with darker hair. Plus, you know, she rocks my world with her two gold medal matches in one day play. Love her.

  24. Sandra

    I’m not gonna lie; I hate the shoes. But from the ankles up she looks dead solid perfect. Well done, Ms. Willams.

  25. Natalie

    She looks fab!

    I miss the Olympics. :(

  26. Anna B.

    I’m kinda surprised I am the first person to say this on here, but I feel like that dress is a smidge too tight, no? It’s all pully where it shouldn’t be. That being said, it is a GORGEOUS shape and color for her and I say rock on with those badass shoes. Give me an athletic body over a waif any day!

  27. sarah

    ass like Serena indeed.

  28. Fifie


  29. KMG

    Loved, loved, loved this post. I so agree with the sentiment. She (and all the Olympic athletes) looks fab, but healthy and strong. I have a bunch of nieces and I hope they look up to Venus and her ilk, instead of Paris Hitlon or any of the Kardashians.

  30. Gigi

    A propos of the subject matter, Aly Reisman is going to be on tonight’s Fashion Police. According to the accompanying photo in Joan Rivers’ Facebook feed, she is rocking a super cute blue dress.

    Well played, Heather!

  31. vandalfan

    Miss Thing!

  32. Aspasia

    DAYUM! Work it, Serena. WORK!

  33. Crystal

    Yes, yes, yes.

  34. Lofty Bike

    Wow. Perfection. I don’t even mind the shoes.

  35. JanetP

    She looks like a billion bucks. And I adore those shoes.

  36. lilibet

    Sensational and she can definitely carry off those shoes. I do wonder about the crossed ankle pose though. I don’t think it has anything to do with having to stop walking and suddenly pose when the photographer snaps. Girls waiting at my local bus stop are imitating it. Better to stand on your own two feet.

  37. G

    She looks beautiful and strong, and strong and beautiful. Wow.

  38. Maretha2

    AMEN to this post, Heather. I loved seeing women of all shapes and sizes during the Olympics — from tiny Gabby Douglas to Kerri Walsh to Holley Mangold to Serena Williams to the swimmers and the runners, etc. — and they were all fit and athletic and at the pinnacle of their sport. So great to celebrate all of these amazing female bodies!

    And Serena looks so incredibly amazing here. Like, I don’t have words. Love the hair. Love the dress. Love the shoes (on her). Love her make up. Just wow.

  39. Miss Louise

    Hands down, the best she has EVER looked. Don’t like the shoes, but the dress and hair are incredible – her proportions look perfect in that dress. Amazing as her butt is, I keep forgetting to look because I’m too busy marvelling over those biceps. She has really floored me with her beauty this time.

  40. Clarence Beeks

    This is the nest I have ever seen her look. Keep it up, Serena, this works!

  41. Sunshine

    Sorry, but I just don’t see it w/this woman. I grant you, she’s in incredible physical shape, but pretty? No. And not b/c I have a problem w/muscular, athletic women. I simply don’t think this particular muscular, athletic woman is pretty. No malice. Just puzzlement.

    • filmcricket

      No, she’s not pretty, but there’s a difference between “pretty” and “hot.” “Pretty” is a lovely first date with dinner and dancing and a chaste kiss at the door. “Hot” takes you apart in the sack and makes you like it. “Pretty” usually resides in the face, “hot” is head-to-toe. The two can go together, but they don’t have to.

      As for this outfit: the dress is a Victoria Beckham and has an exposed zipper all the way up the back, which is less flattering than the views we have here, but there’s no question she looks dynamite. And while I want the platform trend to die a horrible, painful death, I think from a proportion perspective these shoes work. She’s a big lady with big hair, so she can rock the big shoes. It’s when tiny little slips of things like Lea Michele put these on that they look extra horrid.

    • aydan

      You don’t have to apologize. Pretty is a subjective term. I think she looks very pretty, especially with this dress and hair.

  42. Bottle Ginger

    That dress is the best thing I’ve ever seen her wear. Simple, yet it looks like a million bucks! Shows off her curves, without diminshing her strength. Feminine, yet fierce. Great color for her, too, and I adore the hair! It looks so casual and natural, even if it took hours to get it to look so simple.

    I do not love the shoes. Their details are lovely, but I don’t love platform heels on big tall gals (like me), and they aren’t shaped remotely like human feet.

    • Cassandra

      Aw no, girl. Platform heels look the BEST on big tall gals. It’s so strong and just, like, “Pow! I’m ten feet tall! Get on my level.”

  43. fritanga

    She looks fantastic, and has become progressively so over the past few months. i think she hired a great stylist, which is something her sister should consider doing.

  44. Shoeniverse

    She looks amazing. I have a male friend who always thought that Serena was pretty whilst Venus was well… he likened her to the Predator. But I could never really see the Serena thing as she often looks so very muscular – but she is totally smoking hot here – WOW!


  45. Katie

    I was on centre court when she won singles gold: it was UNBELIEVABLE. She was immense, and possibly the best sportsperson I saw, except maybe Epke Zonderland. Check out his highbar routine. It is crazy amazing.
    (Her singles and doubles golds were on different days though. Singles on Saturday, doubles on Sunday).

    She looks awesome here too. I am super jealous of that hair.

  46. gryt

    Holy mother of god. She’s pure dynamite! I’m in awe.

  47. AnthroK8

    THE WOMEN BOXERS. Those women could take up space like the deserved it. LOVED THEM.

  48. PCH

    What a goddess. Long may she play.

  49. Glenn


  50. Julie

    My daughters were among those watching the Olympics and thinking “Someday.” My little one adores Serena ever since we watched the singles match. She says she likes her muscles, and she likes her because she’s also a little sister.

  51. Kiti

    Hair – fantastic. Dress – Fantastic. It’s a smidge tighter than I would generally approve, but the dress looks smashing on her body (those muscles are amazing, AND I’ve always thought she is very well proportioned), so I give it an enthusiastic 5 stars. Shoes – NO. If one spends $4000 on shoes, those shoes should not be bedazzled boat-hooves. But the rest of the look is all-around fantastic, so I’ll just pretend the shoes don’t exist. LALALA, Serena is wearing classic black pumps here, DON’T TELL ME DIFFERENT.

  52. KathyRo

    Wow. Usually she’s a hot mess but she looks good here.

  53. emilythorne

    Stop hating the shoes, we are running away together.

  54. Danna

    Dang, she looks amazing. Hollywood should jump on that and make her the next female superhero, like Ninja Tennis Warrior Queen. She looks like she could kick some serious butt.

  55. aydan

    Alright, I’m going to the gym tomorrow. I’ll never look like her, but she’s an inspiration. She looks amazing.

  56. Ms. A.


  57. Mair Mair

    I didn’t play sports as a kid. Growing up in Texas in the 70s, there just wasn’t much on offer if you were a girl. But my daughter is a total jock, and I couldn’t be prouder of her, or happier that she’s had the opportunities that I didn’t have. Playing sports has taught her that it’s ok to be competitive and to want to win — something that doesn’t always come naturally to girls. And she has made incredible friends along the way. She started high school today (!!), and because she has been practicing with the freshman volleyball team for the past three weeks, she’s going in with a built-in group of friends and a feeling that she already belongs. Priceless.
    So thank you, Serena and all the other amazing female athletes out there, for showing my daughter — and all of us — what’s possible.

  58. Ann

    That’s seriously the best look for her. She should have this stuck to her wardrobe door to remind her how amazing she looks!

  59. nonabgo

    OMG, she actually looks like a girl here!

  60. leslie

    She looks like sexy spice, in a good way.

  61. Charlotte Allen

    In the top photo Serena looks gorgeous and elegant (although I don’t care for the shoes–why do some Louboutins look just about perfect, in their simplicity and others just plain ugly? The more expensive a Louboutin is, the more likely it is to be overdone). In the bottom photo you can see that the dress is just plain too tight, detracting from its elegance. Too bad, because otherwise Serena is demonstrating how starkly simple lines can make a muscular athletic body look feminine and dishy. Her spare jewelry, for example, is the very essence of elegant femininity. But she wrecks it in the side view.

  62. Jax

    Go Serena. Those are some very intense shoes you are wearing.

  63. Squirrel!

    I echo a lot of commenters’ sentiments in noting that that dress on that body is amazing, that hair is glorious, and… those shoes would be soooo much more palatable without the platform.

  64. Lily1214

    She looks awfully nice. Best I’ve ever seen her.

  65. Lily1214

    The dumpster is really getting a lot of camera play.

  66. Kathleen

    WOWZER!!!! Gorgeous lady and a wonderful young woman.