Serena Williams arrived at a Wilson Tennis event on August 25 to reveal the new Blade SW104 Autograph tennis racket. Williams isn’t the first woman to earn the honor of her name on a Wilson racket—Billie Jean King and Chris Evert both had their own editions—but there’s no question that the Williams name has not just star power, but selling power.
Running late after previous commitments in a jam-packed schedule before the U.S. Open, Williams was still enthusiastic–cracking jokes and sliding in self-deprecating remarks, but she also did look genuinely touched the first time she held the racket.
After the presentation during a question and answer session, Serena Williams spoke about her long relationship with Wilson. Previously, Wilson executives had discussed bringing her into the fold as a teenager, but Williams said, “My first racket was in the ’80s–’87–so that would have made me six. So that’s when I first went Wilson, my dad gave me a Wilson Profile. I had a blue one, my sister had a gold one, and we both loved it. As a six-year-old, I remember thinking the racket was amazing. I would have never imagined I would be standing here with the Autograph racket, with this opportunity, to have this for me.”
Williams trailed off for a second, as she brought the racket up. She looked at herself, reflected back on the packaging. “It’s a really humbling experience,” she continued. “It also makes me look way back when I was in Compton, all those years ago, just practicing on the courts with my sister, with my dad, with my mom, with my family. To see it come from the roots like that to now is pretty amazing.”
And perhaps the best small detail at the event? The signature drink for Serena Williams at the bar was lemonade.
Here are some photos of the new racket: