Audemars Piguet brand ambassador Serena Williams epitomises the qualities of the Diamond Outrage timepiece — strength, power and timeless beauty
Just as Serena Williams’ email interview with Options landed in our inbox, Vanity Fair featured a picture of Williams naked and caressing her growing baby bump for the cover of its August issue.
Williams has a lot to celebrate. She has lived the last couple of years of her life at a fast and furious pace — like the way she plays tennis. It all began with a chance encounter with co-founder of social news website Reddit Alexis Ohanian. Then came the whirlwind romance, the proposal and the baby announcement. Williams later admitted that the announcement to the world via social media was a mistake; she had pressed the “send” button accidentally.
While all that was going on, multitasker Williams continued with her tennis tournaments. In fact, she only found out she was pregnant just two weeks before the Australian Open this year, but that did not stop her from winning her seventh Australian title and her 23rd Grand Slam Down Under on Jan 28.
Remarkable does not even begin to describe Williams’ many achievements. She collected her first Grand Slam in New York in September 1999. In Australia, she won in 2003, 2005, 2007, 2009, 2010, 2015 and 2017. With her latest triumph, she is once again the world’s No 1 women’s tennis player.
Born in Michigan, Williams, the youngest of five daughters in the family, took up tennis at the age of three. When she was nine, the family moved to Florida so she could attend the Rick Macci Tennis Academy. After a few issues, such as hearing derogatory remarks made about Serena and her sister Venus, their father pulled them out of the academy and decided to coach them himself. That decision has paid off as the Williams sisters went on to conquer tournaments around the world.
Fans will miss Williams’ trademark return of serve and powerful forehand and backhand swings as she will be taking some time off to enjoy motherhood. She has promised to return; in a recent interview on TED2017, she revealed to radio host Gayle King, “Winning for me is super addictive. I feel like, once you experience it, you always want to get that feeling again. When I won my first championship, I was only 17 years old, but I never forgot that feeling. [And] every time, I want to reach that feeling of that first championship.”
Just before the Vanity Fair cover shoot, Williams, who is the brand ambassador for Audemars Piguet, helped launch the Diamond Outrage timepiece — the latest Haute Joaillerie timepiece to join the other two: Diamond Punk and Diamond Fury.
Giving the advertising campaign a fashionable twist, Swiss independent watch brand Audemars Piguet engaged British photographer Tom Munro to take pictures of Williams with the watch. Only a professional like Munro can give equal attention to both the model and the timepiece. He has photographed female celebrities such as Madonna, Naomi Campbell and Lady Gaga. Munro did a superb job and the images speak for themselves.
Despite her busy schedule, Williams replied to the email questions Options sent her. She shares her views on the timepiece and her passions on and off the court.
What was your impression when you saw the Audemars Piguet Diamond Outrage timepiece?
Beautiful. Powerful. Strong. Different. Unique. These are the words that come to mind. It has many facets, including mystery, with the actual watch being hidden on the inside. Audemars Piguet was able to reach a new level with this piece and it touched me. I actually want to congratulate the watchmakers and jewellers who made the watch. They should be proud. The result is beyond anything I’ve ever seen and I feel like the luckiest girl in the world every time I wear it.
You are definitely a role model for a lot of girls. In the same way, Audemars Piguet is giving women a voice through this amazing timepiece. What words of encouragement do you have for women out there who are struggling to be heard?
As an athlete, you never know how your words or actions will impact other people, younger people. Positive words have a positive impact and what I want to say is: “You can do everything, if you believe in it.” It can be cliché for some people, but I don’t know anything more powerful than mental strength.
Is there one pet peeve that will cause you to react with extreme outrage and how would you deal with it?
Pet peeves don’t trigger outrage in my case, but I do hate it when people are late. I also hate being late myself. I could be Swiss!
What are some of the qualities of Audemars Piguet that resonate with you?
Their motto resonates intensely with me. To break the rules, you must first master them! And the ultimate objective, of course, is to make the rules.
What was it like to work with celebrity photographer Tom Munro?
It was such a great and fun shoot! I hadn’t really done anything like that before. It was very modern, which makes sense, as the Diamond Outrage is so contemporary. It all worked perfectly well together. I feel Munro was able to capture my fun side… which is really me.
When I am on the court, you only see my serious side because I take my job seriously. So, it was very cool to be able to showcase my normal [off the court] fun side. Tom was also fun and serious at the same time, determined to get the right shot. He had a specific idea of where he wanted to go and he wasn’t leaving until he had the right shot in the box. I enjoyed that! I like working with people who take pride in their work and he definitely does. It was perfect.
You have won every Grand Slam singles title and several Olympic gold medals. Are there other titles you would like to add to the list?
I am extremely lucky because so far, I feel like I have a lot already. Having won different titles makes it easier for me, there is no pressure to achieve anything specific now. I have won every Grand Slam and the Olympics. I am playing for fun now. Obviously, I would like to set the ultimate record, but that’s a story to be continued.
What do awards and accolades mean to you?
Awards do mean a lot as it is nice to be recognised for the work you’ve done, for everything you’ve achieved. But I don’t like to look at my awards since my objective is to get more and I need to focus on working on this instead of looking at what’s been accomplished so far.
What is your daily exercise and diet regime like?
Exercise is key and I intend to keep exercising for as long as possible while pregnant. I want the baby to be healthy, and for that, you need a healthy [lifestyle]. When I come back to tennis, it will also be better if I keep fit as much as possible all the way through the pregnancy rather than having to lose more weight afterwards in order to get fit again. Eating healthily is a must, but being healthy is actually a lifestyle.
Are you first a sportswoman and second, a businesswoman? Or is it the other way around?
Actually, I would say a businesswoman first, then sportswoman. Tennis is my business and I love it.
If not tennis, what other passion would you have pursued?
Fashion, of course! But fashion is hard, you have to keep going. I am still going, still fighting to make the right choices… one step at a time. You can’t give up, even more so than in sports, I think. Fashion is harder than tennis. In tennis, I can make my own destiny, while in fashion, you rely on manufacturers, deliveries and so many other things.
The Diamond Outrage is Audemars Piguet’s third Haute Joaillerie timepiece. It introduced the Diamond Punk in 2015 and the Diamond Fury in 2016. Launched at the Salon International de la Haute Horlogerie in Geneva this year, the watch has been described by Audemars Piguet as “brilliantly shocking, boldly unique”.
As you admire this cuff watch, you will understand the statement. Firstly, you are mesmerised by the precious stones set in a brilliant display — a vision linked to the Vallée de Joux in wintertime. The Vallée de Joux is where the Audemars Piguet manufacture is located and where all the amazing timepieces, such as the Diamond Outrage, are made. The timepiece is presented in two versions: 18-carat whitegold fully set with either diamonds or blue sapphires.
In the full-diamond version, the three baguette-set spikes are reminiscent of stalactites that come in varying sizes (from 29.3mm to 40mm). These are created using the snow-setting technique, in which diamonds are set close together so that the jewel’s white-gold frame is almost invisible. This special setting is used for each of the three distinctive baguette-cut diamond points. Linear-cut diamonds are held perfectly in place as if no setting were required and appear to be floating. This technique can only be achieved by talented jewellers with many years of training — and Audemars Piguet has the talent.
Technical specifications for the Diamond Outrage full-diamond movement
Quartz Calibre 2701
Total diameter: 11.3mm (47/8 lignes)
Total thickness: 2.5mm
Number of jewels: 5
Frequency of the quartz: 32,768Hz
18-carat white-gold case, entirely set with diamonds, glare-proof sapphire crystal, airtight
Mirror-polished dial, blackened gold hands
18-carat white-gold bracelet, entirely set with diamonds
9,923 brilliant-cut diamonds; ~50.06 carats
354 baguette-cut diamonds; ~15.85 carats
This article appeared in Issue 787 (July 10) of The Edge Singapore.