The greatest female athlete in the world is about to spend the next eight and a half hours . . . getting a new hairdo. Hey, a diva’s gotta do what a diva’s gotta do. “I think I should go dark now,” Serena decides, dunking her head into the sink. “I don’t want to be blonde anymore. Blondes get taken advantage of.”
Serena Williams bursts out laughing. It’s the laugh of a woman who never gets taken advantage of—and is never unaware of the power of being Serena. “You notice how everyone went blonde after I went blonde?” she purrs.
She is sitting in her bathroom in Palm Beach, wearing a lavender robe and big fuzzy purple bedroom slippers with her hair full of goop, her face exfoliating—and 242 Harry Winston diamonds wrapped around her wrist. “They made this just for me,” she says, flashing from beneath her bathrobe the eye-popping bracelet that got almost as much attention at the Australian Open as her history-making fourth consecutive grand slam title, a.k.a. the Serena Slam. She smiles serenely at her image in the mirror. “I love getting stuff for free,” says Serena. “I am the queen of free.”
She starts to sing. “Diamonds are a girl’s best friend. . . . ’ Marilyn,” she divulges, “is my role model.” She has recently been on a Marilyn Monroe binge, watching all her movies back-to-back. For inspiration. And not just because Serena has already decided what her second act will be—she is going to become an actress. “I love her style.” It seems a most, well, incongruous role model for the fiercest, baddest female athlete on the planet, but really it’s not so off the wall. Like Marilyn, underneath the in-your-face, world-by-the-balls facade, Serena—who, it’s easy to forget, is only 21—just wants to be a girl.
"Trophy Girl" by Lisa DePaulo has been edited for Style.com; the complete story appears in the April 2003 issue of Vogue.
Photos by Annie Liebovitz: