Fashion & Style

Serena Williams Wants You to Be An Efficient Packer

While the world has been in lockdown for the better part of a year, that doesn’t mean people haven’t been fantasizing about travel. Or if you’re tennis icon Serena Williams, who travelled almost nonstop during the before times, you’re probably not daydreaming of travel at all, you’re just straight up dreaming—because you’re catching up on some well-deserved sleep. The champion athlete, entrepreneur and mom has been using the time during quarantine to do something she rarely gets to actually do: stay home.

But just because Williams isn’t necessarily lusting after travel right now, that doesn’t mean it’s not still an integral part of her life. “Luggage and travel are a huge part of my lifestyle,” she tells FLARE. “When I was younger, one of my first travel experiences for tennis was going to Europe and that trip really inspired my love of travel.” This affinity for seeing the world makes her latest collection with luxury suitcase brand Away a natural fit. Ahead of the January 28 launch of her second collection with the brand, Away x Serena Williams, the athlete spoke to FLARE about the inspiration behind her collection, how travel has changed as she’s taken on new roles, and why she was happy to stay put during quarantine.

Serena Williams’s luggage collection was inspired by her favourite places—and her pro packing skills

While she launched her first collection with Away in January 2020, when the world was more open for travel, Williams’s latest collection was designed and created under much different circumstances. “I really wanted to create something that spoke to the consumer,” Williams says. “[With] the last collection, I brought something that was more designed on the inside, so I wanted to have the focus [for this collection] be on the outside.” And while it’s been awhile since many people have hopped on a plane for international travel, it’s faraway locales that inspired the exteriors of her Williams’s luggage. The pieces were influenced by some of her top travel destinations, and the nostalgia of the memories she has from visiting them.

“Rome is one of my absolute favourite places in the world,” she says. “I miss exploring the city and taking in the architecture. The intricate details of the buildings were a huge inspiration for me in this collection.” (She also loves Paris, a place Williams says feels almost like home. It helps that Williams speaks French!)

serena williams away collection: Three suitcases from the Away x Serena Williams collection are posed in front of a drawing of the Trevi Fountain in Rome

(Photo: Away)

And not only is it her love of certain cities that influenced the collection, but her skills as an expert packer, something she honed over her many years of travel. “I’ve found that I have been able to create a system for packing that keeps me less stressed while traveling. I am really organized and typically start planning weeks in advance,” she says. The Away x Serena Williams collection features a set of four expandable packing cubes, something Williams swears by for staying organized and remembering essentials.

Read this next: Rashida Jones Knows You’re Not Travelling Far

The role of travel has changed for her as she’s gotten older

As a professional athlete, entrepreneur and one of Fast Company‘s 42 most productive people, Williams is no stranger to taking on different, often high-stress roles, which is why when she travels, she prefers to keep it relatively low-key. The mom to three-year-old Alexis Olympia doesn’t have a ritual for when she travels to a new place, like running through the city to sightsee or going shopping. Mostly because she doesn’t usually have time to do those things. “When I travel I’m always working,” she says, “so I’m always fine to rest [in her downtime].”

But as her life has evolved, so has the way she views travel—especially since becoming a mom. “I’ll always be a traveler at heart, but I often find myself so focused on work that I don’t get to explore all the cities I visit. As I’ve gotten older, I am also now traveling as a mother, which adds a whole new dimension of chaos and stress, but it makes visiting new places so much more rewarding and enjoyable,” she says.

And once it’s safe to travel for pleasure, Williams knows the first place on her list. “I love anywhere in the Caribbean, so that’s always on my list to go.”

Williams has used quarantine as a time to truly relax

While many people think of air travel as an activity that brings them joy, with that out of the question after an overall challenging year, it’s inevitable that they’d look for other activities and hobbies to fill the void. Whether it was baking sourdough or learning how to knit, quarantine activities were all the rage in 2020 as a way to pass the time at home. But for Williams, it wasn’t cooking or learning a new language that brought her joy, it was simply staying home in and of itself. “For me, [what brought me joy in 2020] was staying home because I do travel so much,” she says. “So the most enjoyable moment for me was staying home. I’ve never been home this long since I was a teenager.”

Read this next: The Problem with Calling Serena Williams’s Justifiable Anger a “Meltdown”

serena williams away collection: A mint car in front of a backdrop

(Photo: Away)

And don’t worry, we will travel again

Despite how the world feels right now, it’s not frivolous to think about buying yourself or your loved ones some chic new luggage. Not only can it be a form of self-care for some, as a symbol of something to look forward to, but because “people are going to start traveling again,” Williams asserts. “And when you travel you want to travel with the best equipment and that’s Away.”