It should come as no surprise that Serena Williams’s Florida home is an absolute Grand Slam — but it didn’t get that way without a little help.
After purchasing the 14,500-square-foot property five years ago, the tennis champion, 39, enlisted the help of her sister, Venus, 40, and her interior design firm V Starr, to help turn the Spanish Mediterranean–style estate into her dream home.
“I was moving away from Venus for the first time in my life, so I wanted it to be really meaningful,” Serena told Architectural Digest in their March cover story, noting that she had previously lived with her sister in a Palm Beach Gardens home they had co-owned since 1998, when not bouncing between several properties across the world (including in Bel-Air and Paris).
“You have to know your lane. I’m really good at playing tennis; I’m not as good at interiors,” she continued, explaining that she let Venus have a good amount of input while still maintaining creative control. “But I was able to learn through just watching Venus.”
Described by V Starr’s principal, Sonya Haffey, as “livable luxury” with elements Serena took from many of her favorite hotels across the globe the home is chic and minimalistic but still family-family, something that was important to the mother of one throughout the design process.
When Serena first bought the home, she had just begun dating Reddit founder Alexis Ohanian, with whom she later welcomed daughter Alexis Olympia (who goes by Olympia), now 3, in September 2017. They married in November of that year.
“We had just met, and I wasn’t going to be like, ‘Hey, let’s do this together,’ Serena said of the beginning of the design process. “That would have been really weird for him.”
Ohanian did have a hand in helping design Olympia’s bedroom, which the family admits is probably the most extravagant room in the house thanks to a custom-made castle bed complete with a slide, and a handblown glass chandelier from artist Josh Fradis.
“She goes down the slide every night while we’re thinking, ‘Man, we shouldn’t have done that, because now at bedtime, she just wants to slide,'” Serena joked to AD. “But whatever makes her happy makes me happy.”
Other notable spaces in the home include a gym with a sauna, a 620-square-foot closet, a massive wine cellar, a trophy room and an infinity pool in the backyard. Recently, Serena has been spending a lot of time in the kitchen, where she’s been working on her cooking skills while social distancing during the pandemic. The space was designed in consultation with her private chef and features plenty of high-tech gadgets and appliances. Serena’s absolute favorite room in the house, however, is the front foyer, which Venus helped her convert into a gallery of sorts, as she’s a huge fan of modern art. Pieces include a Vintage Wurlitzer piano, a Kaws x Campana chair, and works from Radcliffe Bailey, David Kracov and more.
“I am not a fan of just having spaces to have them. Maybe some people use their formal living rooms, but we don’t,” Venus said of the foyer-turned-gallery. “So we created a space that she can actually use and enjoy and live with the art, and invite other people to absorb it and have that emotional connection as soon as you walk in. It sets the tone for the rest of the home.” Behind a bookshelf in the gallery room is a secret doorway which leads to a karaoke room a favorite pastime of the Williams-Ohanian family (it was even their activity of choice after she won the U.S. Open in NYC!). Inside, the room boasts a small stage, aquamarine chairs and neon sign reading “sérénade.”
And while the sprawling waterfront home may seem to have it all, there is one thing noticeably missing: a tennis court. And this is no accident.
“I wanted to separate home from work,” Serena explained of the decision to leave one out. “I love being home. When you have our job, you never get time to relax. So it’s good for me to be able to sit still and not do anything.”