Serena Williams's Hair Evolution—from Sleek Bobs to Voluminous Curls

There’s no denying Serena Williams's skills on the tennis courts, but did you know she’s also been blessing us with hair inspiration for decades? Whether she’s winning at Wimbledon or hitting the red carpets, the 41-year-old athlete has rocked many iconic looks over the last 25 years. Seriously, who can forget her and her sister Venus’s colorfully beaded braids at the beginning of their careers? Or her blonde era in the early ‘00s? If you need more examples, we took a trip down memory lane to give you Serena Williams’s hair evolution from 1998 to now.

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1998: Beaded Braids

In the ‘90s, Serena Williams cemented her status in the tennis world and won her very first US Open in 1999. The decorative beads that adorned her braids on and off the courts also played a starring role in those early days.

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2000: Short Twists

A few years later, Williams said goodbye to her beads and welcomed a short twisted ‘do. The 19-year-old was forging a path for herself career-wise, while trying out new hairstyles, too. 

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2001: Blonde Babe

The early ‘00s became Serena’s blonde era. Whether she was wearing it in a ponytail on the court or dressing it down for the Gridiron Glamour Celebrity Fashion Show, Williams often rocked micro braids near the roots and kept the rest of her hair in straight blonde locks.

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2002: ESPY Bombshell

Blonde hair continued to be the athlete’s go-to shade. At the ESPY Awards, Williams sported buoyant, honey blonde layers along with a shimmery purple eyeshadow and a glossy brown lip to bring the whole glam look together. 

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2003: Serena Slam Highlights

In 2003, Williams became the fifth woman to hold all Grand Slam titles, which was soon dubbed the “Serena Slam.” At the same time, she returned to her natural brown hue and added a pop of blonde highlights that really shined at the 2003 EPSY Awards. 

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2003: Waves Galore

The tennis star was all about wavy locks for the MTV Video Music Awards. The tight cascading ringlets paired well with her minimal makeup look on the red carpet. 

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2004: Bangs Era

By 2004, the 23-year-old was all about bangs. At the Clive Davis Pre-Grammy Party, she sported a full fringe and sleek chestnut brown hair to the star-studded event. 

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2004: Loose Curls

It’s no secret that Williams is a curly gal at heart. At the 2004 Teen Choice Awards, she wore loose barrel curls in a brown hue to compliment her signature shimmery beauty look. 

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2004: Ash Blonde Beauty

For Williams, no shade of blonde is off limits. In 2004, the star opted for an ash blonde to go with her lengthy mane for a star-studded movie premiere in Los Angeles. 

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2005: Back to Black

The tennis star wanted to switch things up with a darker hair tone at the Two for the Money movie premiere in 2005. The striking hue contrasted nicely against her bold red lips and bright purple eyeshadow.

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2007: Choppy Bob

By 2007, the Grand Slam champion was ready to switch up her signature long locks for a short choppy bob. At the Louis Vuitton Host Party, she rocked a dark black bob, a deep side bang and piecey ends.

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2007: Brushed Out Curls

The star player opted for a voluminous ‘do and she got it down pat with this brushed out style for the Chelsea Football Club party. 

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2009: Book Tour Curls

While promoting her autobiography On The Line, the new author sported bouncy curls and her signature brown hue. 

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2009: Curly Cut

Let’s face it, 2009 was the year of curls for Williams. At the Wimbledon Winners Party (where she won against her own big sis), she showed off a curly cut to compliment her natural texture. 

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2009: Bobs and Bangs

What are two styles the Olympian loves? Bobs and bangs. At the 2009 Women of the Year event, she showed off both with her shorter locks and full bangs along with a smokey eye and glossy lips for an edgy finish. 

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2010: Asymmetrical Bob

Once again, Williams tested out different lengths with this asymmetrical ‘do. Plus, she sticks with her signature full fringe and a balayage finish.

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2010: Sleek and Straight

The tennis star brought her natural hue back in favor of a silk press that sat just past her shoulders (without a flyaway in sight, might we add) for the 2010 US Open Play Party. 

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2015: Corkscrew Curls

The 34-year-old had a few favorite hairstyles over the years and this curly ‘do was a top contender. She was seen rocking this look on numerous occasions, including this second annual Delta Open Mic event. 

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2016: Sleek Bob

Williams rediscovered her love of bobs and showed off a sleek black ‘do at the 2016 Vanity Fair Oscar Party. 

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2017: Slicked Back Bob

A month after announcing her pregnancy and taking a break from tennis, a pregnant Williams attended the 2017 Met Gala rocking a slicked back bob and bedazzled emerald earrings for the big event. 

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2017: Bubble Braid

Just a few months after giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., Serena returned to the red carpet rocking an off-the-shoulder bubble braid decorated with stunning gold accessories to compliment her gown. 

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2018: Royal Wedding Ready

The tennis star was among the many celebs at the royal wedding of Meghan Markle (her bestie, FYI) and Prince Harry. She sported box braids in a high ponytail along with a chic pink accessory for the ceremony. 

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2018: Lovely Lob

One thing is for sure: Williams will always love a good balayage. At the Allstate Foundation event, the tennis champion kept things casual in a lob cut and minimal makeup. 

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2019: Blonde Comeback

If you thought her blonde days were over, think again. Williams arrived at the Sports Illustrated Fashion 50 event with a honey blonde hue and flowing tresses that matched well with her layered gold jewelry. 

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2021: Sleek Ponytail

It’s rare to see Williams wearing her hair back (unless she’s playing), so we were in for a treat at the 2021 LACMA Art + Film Gala. She rocked a sleek low ponytail and laid down her baby hairs for a casual yet glam look. 

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2021: Wet Look

The ‘wet look’ was huge in 2021 and the Grand Slam champion stayed on top of the trend at the closing premiere of King Richard, where she showed off the look (along with a showstopping smokey eye and nude lips). 

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2022: Blonde Bob

The blonde bob will continue to be a staple for the star athlete. At the 2022 Vanity Fair Oscar Party, she rocked a blunt cut and laid down her edges for a red carpet ready look. 

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2023: Honey Blonde Curls

Retirement is looking good on Williams. At the 54th Annual NAACP Awards, the 41-year-old showed off a head full of soft voluminous curls, which she’s also been seen rocking at NYFW and LFW recently.

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Associate Editor, Ultimate Fangirl, Aspiring Beauty Guru

Chelsea Candelario is an Associate Editor at PureWow. She has been covering beauty, culture, fashion and entertainment for over a decade. You'll find her searching the internet...