When tennis superstar Serena Williams married Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian last weekend in New Orleans, most outlets focused on Williams’s dress, as with any bride.
And the dress, to be sure, was exquisite: a Sarah Burton for Alexander McQueen princess gown, one of three looks Williams wore during her ceremony and reception.
But it was her pair of bedazzled Nike Cortez sneakers that really glimmered — an unconventional choice for most brides, perhaps, though certainly not for a 23-time Grand Slam champion, who wore the kicks as part of her third and final outfit change, according to photos, as well as “down the aisle,” Williams noted on Instagram.
What’s surprising is that Nike didn’t have much to do with the wedding — the company has worked with Williams for years on apparel collections and other projects, but told Yahoo Lifestyle in an email that it had nothing to share about this particular event.
Instead, it was a 30-year-old administrative employee at a Florida wine importer, Michelle Meneses, who brought the bride’s bedazzled wedding sneakers to life.
Williams contacted Meneses just 48 hours before her wedding for help turning her iconic Nike Cortez sneakers into something extra special.
Williams and Meneses share a dance instructor, who connected the two of them last year. The tennis great had been looking for someone who could embellish a suit she planned on wearing to a secret dance competition against her sister Venus, and the instructor suggested Meneses.
Meneses submitted some sketches for a Swarovski crystal-adorned suit, Williams approved, and two weeks later the creation was complete.
This time, Meneses says, the job was much more intense.
“I was gluing day and night for that, but this one was the most challenging of all, especially because of the quick turnaround that I had to do,” Meneses tells Yahoo Lifestyle. “[Serena] had this vision, and she messaged me at midnight 48 hours prior to her wedding. I messaged her back right away, and the next morning I had the shoes by my front door. I was working against the clock for 24 hours straight.”
Meneses says she was “so motivated” to finish the shoes, running “calculations” in her head for how to allot time to finish each section. “It was truly nonstop completely for the cutoff for the Fedex the next morning for her wedding.”
Meneses used thousands of crystals (“I worked under such a fast turnaround I did not get to count them,” she says) to cover the sneakers. She declined to give any cost estimates for the sneakers, or for Williams’s suit from the dance competition, noting also that as she plans to take her passion more seriously, she’d consider pricing for other projects on an individual basis. She has already received hundreds of requests for a range of custom items.
“This is not my main job, so it’s hard to balance it,” the Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., resident says. “It is one of my hidden passions, though, and I’m definitely really excited to see my work come to light. I’m so thankful to Serena for doing that for me.”
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