Serena Williams Paid Tribute to Virgil Abloh With a Surprise Runway Appearance

Among the renowned models walking for Off-White's fall/winter 2022 show on Feb. 28, Serena Williams made a surprise appearance on the catwalk to pay tribute to the brand's founder, Virgil Abloh. On the opening night of Paris Fashion Week, Off-White's show honored the enduring legacy of Abloh, who truly left a lasting impact on the fashion industry with work with both Off-White and Louis Vuitton.

Williams wore a tight mesh dress layered over a tie-dye-print catsuit from the "Spaceship Earth" themed collection, the late designer's last for the brand. Famous faces like Naomi Campbell, Kaia Gerber, Cindy Crawford, Kendall Jenner, and Gigi and Bella Hadid also joined Williams on the runway.

"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."

"I had an unbelievable time walking in the @off____white show," the tennis champion wrote alongside behind-the-scenes photos from the 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."

Williams was the inspiration behind Abloh's first collection for Nike, and the tennis pro often wore the designer's pieces both on and off the court. After Williams was banned from wearing her signature bodysuit at the French Open in 2018, she sported custom tutus from Abloh's collaboration with Nike. At the 2019 Met Gala, she paired her bright floral Atelier Versace gown with matching yellow Off-White x Nike sneakers.

Back in November, Abloh died at age 41 after a private, two-year-long battle with cancer. At the time, Williams wrote on Instagram, "It was my honor to stand next to him. He lit up every room he walked into. May his beloved family and friends find comfort in knowing how profoundly his art impacted our culture, and us all. I will miss you." Ahead, get a closer look at Williams's homage on the Off-White runway.