Serena Williams reveals a mysterious secret passage behind her living room bookcase – but where does it lead?

Her Florida home is full of surprises

Serena Williams
(Image credit: GettyImages)

Serena Williams' northern Miami home is as chic as it is playful. Primarily designed by V Starr – her sister Venus' bespoke design firm – the residence is pleasingly contemporary. However, it is also full of fun surprises, and the latest to be revealed is a secret door, hidden behind a bookcase. 

'Reading is more fun when your bookshelf is a secret door,' Serena says in the Instagram posts that shows the door. 'It's not a secret that I love our V Starr and Hakwood flooring that adds the perfect amount of warmth.' 

What does remain secret, however, is what's behind the bookcase. A panic room is most likely in modern America, yet we doubt Serena would be giving that away on Insta? A speakeasy, perhaps? More fun, but equally unlikely. A passageway to a tennis court?  

Whatever – we love that Serena's indulged in a design feature that's been around since the time of the Pharaohs, and expect nothing less from the tennis star's fun take on home design. Last week, we featured Serena's really unusual kitchen island (which nearly broke the internet), and her daughter’s bedroom comes complete with a built-in slide (yes, really). 

This vibrant Floridan home is, as a whole, a playful yet sophisticated sanctuary – and there are elements of Serena's shelving that can be replicated. Most notably, the dark timber – is right on trend, according to design experts.

'After many years of lighter-colored, Scandinavian-inspired woods dominating home trends, darker, more traditional woods – like teak, walnut, and mahogany – have fallen back in favor,' says Etsy’s Trend Expert Dayna Isom Johnson. 

Dayna Isom Johnson
Dayna Isom Johnson

Dayna Isom Johnson is Etsy's trend expert with over a decade of experience unearthing the latest and chicest styles. She is unwavering in her pursuit of new and unique finds and is passionate about helping shoppers find exceptional pieces that showcase their personal style.

The interior design expert explains that Etsy has observed a 37 percent increase in searches for walnut desks and accessories and a 28 percent increase in searches for brown seating or furniture.

'Meanwhile, we’ve observed a 24% decrease in searches for Scandinavian decor, a 14% decrease in searches for raw or light wood, and a 29% decrease in searches for beige decor on Etsy (so long, "sad beige"), indicating these styles might be on the way out,' Dayna says.

'Darker woods create a sense of warmth and coziness in a space while also providing a touch of character and sophistication to a room. Another reason why darker woods are popular? Their timeless quality. Just ask our 2023 Collections Curator, Martha Stewart, who recently shared that "brown furniture is alive and well" and that "what's old is new again".'  

And, for more Serena Williams inspiration, we can't help but look to her biography. It would look perfect on a dark wooden bookcase, after all. 

Serena Williams: The Inspiring Story of One of Tennis' Greatest Legends

Serena Williams: The Inspiring Story of One of Tennis' Greatest Legends – $19.99 on Amazon
We're also picking up the inspirational story behind one of tennis' premier legends, Serena Williams. It shares a look behind the childhood, early life, and success of the most remarkable women's tennis player of all-time 

Megan Slack
Head of Celebrity Style News

Megan is the Head of Celebrity Style News at Homes & Gardens. She first joined Future Plc as a News Writer across their interiors titles, including Livingetc and Real Homes, before becoming H&G's News Editor in April 2022. She now leads the Celebrity/ News team. Before joining Future, Megan worked as a News Explainer at The Telegraph, following her MA in International Journalism at the University of Leeds. During her BA in English Literature and Creative Writing, she gained writing experience in the US while studying in New York. Megan also focused on travel writing during her time living in Paris, where she produced content for a French travel site. She currently lives in London with her antique typewriter and an expansive collection of houseplants.