The kicks, which were a gift from Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli, are a symbol of a cause that's important to the tennis star.

By Samantha Peters
Updated May 21, 2018
Serena Williams Royal Wedding
Credit: Pool/Samir Hussein

Unless she’s on the courts, Serena Williams isn’t one to play by the rules—the rules of fashion, that is. Over the weekend, the 36-year-old tennis pro swapped her heels for sneakers to attend the royal wedding reception, proving that style and comfort can go hand in hand no matter how formal the event.

Although the detail could have been missed under her floor-length Valentino gown—which featured a voluminous floral print skirt—Williams took to Instagram to highlight her bold choice.

“Little known fact: I often wear sneakers under my evening gown,” Williams wrote on the platform. “I told [@pppiccioli} to be careful I tend to be comfy for long nights.”

Her decision to wear the kicks, which were a gift from Valentino creative director Pierpaolo Piccioli, symbolize the star’s advocacy for breaking gender stereotypes (in this case, eschewing "feminine" but pain-inducing high heels—a more expected choice for women's formal-wear—for comfortable kicks). It's a cause which has been especially close to Williams' heart ever since the birth of her now 8-month-old daughter, Olympia.

“Everything has changed the way I thought about raising a daughter,” Williams told Elle recently. “There are so many hidden innuendos out there for girls that we don’t even think about! That I never thought about, until I realized my daughter would hear them.”

Her overarching message? You don't have to wear heels if you don't want to, ladies!