Illustration and lettering artist Gemma O’Brien was commissioned by Nike to create a mural for the new Serena Williams building at the company’s world headquarters in Beaverton, OR. While Gemma began working on the mural in 2019, when the world was a different place, it’s finally been installed this year.
For this piece, Gemma felt that Serena’s own words should be the focus of the artwork. Gemma discovered that when the Williams sisters trained as kids in Compton, their father would hang motivational phrases on the courts and encouraged them to write down their goals and dreams on paper. As Serena’s career progressed, she went on to keep a little match book, filled with handwritten aphorisms and match notes. When Gemma came across the words ‘Your Destiny Has Just Begun’, it seemed like the perfect fit: it’s bold, empowering and optimistic. It also felt like a sentiment that could ring true for anyone, a mindset that no matter where you’re at, each moment could be a fresh start with a world of possibilities ahead.
Inside the border of this super-sized phrase, there are references to Serena’s life and career – her early days in Compton, palm trees from her home in Florida and her favorite flower: the rose. Bright blues, yellows and greens echo the courts and surrounds of the Australian Open, while graphic icons make reference to Williams’ role models and the pivotal moments in her career. The end result is a piece that speaks to Serena’s power and presence as an athlete, but also celebrates her spirit, multi-faceted personality and playful energy.