Serena Williams has paid tribute to her friend and fashion designer Virgil Abloh 12 months on from his passing aged 41.
The fashion prodigy, a married father of two, had been privately battling a rare form of cancer called cardiac angiosarcoma. He was diagnosed with the condition in 2019 and died on November 28, 2021.
Tennis legend Williams honored Abloh at the US Open earlier this year and has paid tribute a year after his death in an emotional post.
She uploaded a picture of the pair together with the caption: ‘It’s been a year and I still can’t put into words the sorrow that I feel.
‘Your touch on the world will live on forever and I couldn’t be more grateful to have witnessed it and had the chance to collaborate with you.
‘I still miss you all the time. Forever and ever @virgilabloh,’ followed by two red love hearts.
Williams was gifted a pair of custom Nike trainers inspired by the late designer at her final tournament in New York in September.
It was the tennis superstar’s swansong before ‘evolving away’ from the sport. She was given a pair of lilac and neon green shoes with her name on the side that were created in honor of her late friend.
‘Oh my goodness!’ she exclaimed when unboxing the package from Nike. ‘I loved Virgil so much and I still do. I always will.’
Williams revealed the shoes were created with a lilac tutu she had worn at the 2018 US Open by Virgil’s brand Off-White in mind.
She added: ‘This is his shoe that was inspired by the quotation Serena and this is the tutu which I’m obsessed with and will always be obsessed with.’
Abloh made history as Louis Vuitton’s first black artistic director after joining the fashion house in 2018.
He had no formal training as a designer but created his own label, Off-White, five years prior to moving to the luxury brand.
Williams was once credited as being the fashion designer’s ‘muse’ as the duo previously worked on a collaboration together for Nike.
She hit the catwalk at the first show since Abloh passed away, featuring for Off-White’s Autumn/Winter 2022 show in February.
She said to her 16million followers: ‘I had an unbelievable time walking in the @off____white show … Virgil meant so much to me, and to walk in a collection that he was still a part of was something I could not miss.
‘Thank you for the opportunity. I am so grateful to show love to my friend.’
In her ‘retirement’ announcement, Williams said she wanted to focus on her family and businesses but after being knocked out in the third round of the US Open by Australian Ajla Tomljanovic, but she has since teased a return to tennis.
‘I’m not retired,’ Williams said to the TechCrunch Disrupt panel in San Francisco last month.
When asked if she could be seen on the court again, she told the audience: ‘The chances are very high.’
That immediately followed with a joke: ‘You can come to my house, I got a court. I got you.’
Williams chose her words very carefully when she spoke at the US Open back in August. She told the audience there that she was ‘evolving away’ from the game.
This wasn’t the first time Williams teased a comeback. After the US Open ended, she made an appearance on Good Morning America and addressed her retirement by name dropping another famous athlete who retired this year.
‘I mean, you never know. I’ve just been saying that Tom Brady started a really cool trend…,’ she said back in September.