Zendaya Recreates Venus & Serena Williams's ’90s Signature Hair Beads

When it was announced that Zendaya would be starring in a tennis drama, our minds immediately jumped to all the ways in which the actress could reference the sport itself, yes, but also two of its most prominent legends—Serena and Venus Williams—within her wardrobe. Well, today, Zendaya just served up perhaps the most poignant method dressing moment of her Challengers press tour thus far.

Zendaya’s stylist Law Roach shared images of the actress re-creating a famous spread of the Williams sisters from a 1998 Vogue shoot. In her version, Zendaya posed in a custom Carolina Herrera black-and-white ball gown. The actress’s dress was designed in gradating stripes and featured a low-cut bodice and a dramatic, trailing train. Fittingly, the piece was a near replica of the Carolina Herrera confections Venus and Serena wore during the late ’90s shoot by photographer Annie Leibovitz. The photo of the sisters also happened to be their first (of many) appearance in the fashion glossy.

In a further homage to the tennis icons, Zendaya also honored the sisters’s beaded hairstyles with a similar look of her own. “An ode to the GREATS,” Roach wrote on Instagram, adding “We thank you for all you have done! With Love, Z and Law.”

It’s one thing for Zendaya to reference the Williams sisters—whose influence transcends the sport of tennis—but an entirely different thing to re-create this specific look. Beads (often created by their mother, Oracene Price) became a signature of the sisters’s on-court style during the ’90s and early 2000s. But they didn’t go without controversy. During the 1999 Australian Open, one of Venus’s beads unintentionally fell out of her hair, resulting in the chair umpire awarding her opponent a point due to the “disturbance” caused on court.

Still, the Williamses continued to champion their signature style well after “beadgate,” as the LA Times called it back then, at multiple points throughout their careers. “Venus and I were not afraid to wear braids,” Serena explained in an interview. “We weren’t afraid to be Black in tennis. And that was different.”

During the Challengers Los Angeles premiere earlier this week, Venus walked the red carpet in Vivienne Westwood couture—much to the surprise, and bemusement, of Zendaya. She told reporters “I heard she showed up, and I was like, ‘Hold up! Is this for real?’” Truly a full circle moment.

New York Daily News Archive/New York Daily News/Getty Images

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