Serena Williams’ ‘Voice of Belief’ Sets the Tone in Poignant Nike U.S. Open Ad

Compelling Wieden + Kennedy work looks back at star's early training

Serena Williams and her father Richard celebrate victory. Nike

Nike shows the “Voice of Belief” that has allowed Serena Williams to carry on in the face of adversity in a powerful new “Just Do It” ad.

Serena Williams returns to the U.S. Open this week during a difficult year marked by health concerns following the birth of her daughter, Alexis. After an unexpected triumph at Wimbledon in July, where she finished second after dropping out of the French Open due to a pectoral muscle injury, she is now attempting to bounce back from disappointing performances at the 2018 Silicon Valley Classic and Cincinnati Masters.

“Voice of Belief,” from Nike agency of record Wieden + Kennedy Portland, takes a look back at Williams’ early training for a glimpse at the roots of the inner-drive that has allowed the tennis superstar to carry on in the face of odds that would have left lesser players on the sidelines.

It opens on a young Serena training with her father, Richard Williams, who tells her “This is you at the U.S. Open” as she practices her now-legendary serve. The ad continues with the elder Williams’ instruction perfectly synced with the star’s career highlights and is interspersed with training from the early years.

Near the end of the spot, he says, “Be tough, just like you want to win it. Just like you’re at the U.S. Open.”

“Voice of Belief” concludes with the line, “It’s only crazy until you do it,” which fades into the brand’s famous tagline. The broadcast spot will run in 60-second and 15-second versions and the campaign also includes digital billboards.

The ad comes amid widespread social media backlash against the French Open, for banning the “catsuit” outfit she wore this year, designed to prevent blood clotting. Nike responded to the news with a tweet in defense of its brand ambassador.

The ad also follows Droga5’s U.S. Open spot for Chase, featuring Williams and her daughter.

Agency: W+K Portland
Creative Directors: Alberto Ponte, Ryan O’Rourke, Chris Groom, Antony Goldstein
Copywriter: Adam Tetreault
Art Director: James Moslander
Directors of Production: Matt Hunnicutt and Mike Davidson
Executive Producer: Molly Tanen
Producer: Kacey Klonsky, Katie McCain
Strategic Planning: Zack Kaplan
Business Affairs: Rylee Millerd
Account Team: Anna Boteva, Carly Williamson, Kate Rutkowski, Luiza Prata Carvalho, Simone Jackson,
Vanessa Miller
Media/Comms Planning: Reme DeBisschop, Stephanie Campbell, Vivian Zhang
Creative Manager: Shannon Hutchinson
Studio Manager: Alicia Kuna
Studio Designer: Jamon Sin
Broadcast Traffic Manager: Tim Bell, Marie Hernandez

Editorial Company: Joint
Editor: Peter Wiedensmith
Assistant Editor: Kristy Faris
Post Producer: Kathleen Russell
Post Executive Producer: Leslie Carthy

Finish Company: Joint
Color Grade Jasmine Vazquez
Flame Artist Pilon Lectez
Flame Assist Kevin Alfoldy
Flame Assist Aurelien Patureau
Post Executive Producer Alex Thiesen

Music+Sound Company: Joint
Composer: Noah Woodburn

Mix Company: Joint
Mixer: Noah Woodburn
Audio Assist: Natalie Huizenga

Agency: W+K Portland
Creative Directors: Alberto Ponte, Ryan O’Rourke,
Copywriter: Kevin Steele
Art Director: Aramis Israel
Business Affairs: Alicia Willett
Account Team: Mike Waywell, Luiza Prata Carvalho
Design Studio Manager: Alicia Kuna
Design Studio Manager: Brian Troyer
Studio Designer: Jamon Sin, Joan Comellas
Retoucher: Frazer Goodbody

@ErikDOster Erik Oster is an agencies reporter for Adweek.