Serena Williams Dons Head-to-toe Gucci at Essence Festival of Culture 2024, Talks Active Beauty and Investing in Women


Evidence that Serena Williams has natural winning instincts on and off the court, the tennis great said she was concocting tinted moisturizer decades before she even knew the product had a name. Never mind being the $1.89 billion category it is today.

Williams took to the stage at the 2024 Essence Festival of Culture in New Orleans on Saturday to share her journey into beauty entrepreneurship and finding joy in helping others achieve their goals.

Sporting an updo and blue eye shadow, Williams tapped into fall’s ladylike trend by wearing a white tweed jacket with black trim and matching miniskirt from Gucci’s pre-fall collection. Williams accessorized the classic look with white Gucci horsebit loafers, fishnet stockings, pearl drop earrings, a pearl necklace and a tennis bracelet.

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JULY 06: Serena Williams speaks onstage during the 2024 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture™ Presented By Coca-Cola® at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 06, 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

Serena Williams speaks onstage during the 2024 Essence Festival of Culture Presented by Coca-Cola.

Erika Goldring/Getty

Williams ended her professional tennis career in 2022 with 23 Grand Slam women’s singles titles, but slowing down is not in her nature. “I didn’t necessarily retire. I feel like I’m a little too young to retire. But I had an evolution into a different life,” she said. In 2023, she and her husband Alexis Ohanian welcomed a second daughter, Adira River. This year Williams launched Wyn Beauty, an inclusive makeup line six years in the making. She teamed with joint venture partners Good Glamm Group and Ulta to introduce the vegan, cruelty-free line in April.

As an athlete playing a solo sport, all eyes were on Williams during her 27-year professional tennis career. “I always tried to represent myself the best that I could while I was on the court, and that wasn’t always very easy,” she said. Wyn Beauty is her solution to the challenges she experienced with finding makeup that matched her skin tone and could last through “Wimbledon three sets, pouring sweat and rain delays,” she said.

And endure motherhood. “I like the word ‘active beauty’ because first, there are so many people in the beauty business right now and I was like if this is what I want to do, what speaks to me? What is authentic to me and what are things that I really would use? And I’m like, well, I’m a very active individual. I love working out, but my life now is way more active than it has been because I’m also a mom,” she said. “I don’t necessarily want to put on a full face of makeup, but I want to put something on that I can wear every day and that will last.”

NEW ORLEANS, LOUISIANA - JULY 06: Serena Williams speaks onstage during the 2024 ESSENCE Festival Of Culture™ Presented By Coca-Cola® at Ernest N. Morial Convention Center on July 06, 2024 in New Orleans, Louisiana. (Photo by Erika Goldring/Getty Images for ESSENCE)

Serena Williams speaks onstage during the 2024 Essence Festival of Culture Presented by Coca-Cola.

Erika Goldring/Getty

A diverse team is behind Wyn Beauty’s early success. “It’s super important to have women involved on the back end,” Williams said. “If you look at the best companies, there’s women and men. Everyone is involved on the back end as well as people who are passionate about making it, people who share my passion, and people who understand my idea of active beauty, which is fresh and unique in the market. For me, it was just finding the perfect mesh of people that can all come together and work on that vision.”

Williams carries this ethos into Serena Ventures, the venture capital fund she cofounded in 2017 to support underrepresented founders of early-stage start-ups.

“My goal was to invest in women,” Williams said, recalling how the idea for the VC sprung from a statistic she heard Caryn Seidman Becker, the CEO of Clear, state at a conference eight years ago.  “She said less than 2 percent of all VC money went to women. And I thought that she was mistaken, I thought that she had misspoken. But it turns out she didn’t.”

Though the number hasn’t drastically changed, Williams said it is moving in the right direction. “I felt like the only way to change that number is to be the person writing the checks,” she said.

In 2022 Serena Ventures announced that it raised $111 million, and just like with her makeup line, Williams is taking an inclusive approach to how funds are distributed. “With our fund, we invest in everyone. I truly believe in diversity, of everyone having a seat at the table… It’s been fun to invest in other women, to invest in men, to invest in people of color, to invest in everyone.”



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