Ever since Serena Williams‘ controversial loss to Japan’s Naomi Osaka during September’s U.S. Open finals and her initial response to the ruling, the tennis player has been somewhat mum on the contentious topic. But at Wednesday night’s launch for her self-titled clothing line, Serena Collection, during Art Basel in Miami, the icon explained to PEOPLE how she’s been dealing with the disappointment.
Pointing to paintings and sculptures scattered around the room at the intimate gathering at the Faena Bazaar in Miami Beach, Williams, 37, shared that she created all of the pieces herself.
“Art is my outlet. A couple of months ago, I was really upset about something,” she said slyly, “and that’s when I made my atoms.”
Williams was referring to two bright red, stainless steel sculptures melded together as hoops, possibly symbolizing both power and struggle.
The athlete and designer also eluded to the umpire Carlos Ramos’ calls against her at the U.S. Open, which many — including tennis icon Billie Jean King and Novak Djokovic — felt were sexist and unfair, leading to her loss.
“I just feel like I’m really able to express myself through art. That’s why I have the clothes here, and I want women to be able to express themselves too. It doesn’t matter if they are front row in the middle of the U.S. Open or at their home talking to their husband — they should be able to have an opinion. And it shouldn’t be looked down upon in any way.”
She further discussed channeling her feelings into art, saying, “I find that when I paint, it definitely brings me a lot of peace. I actually can think about things.”
Williams, who was dressed in her line’s Instagrammable Mini Dress — a long-sleeved, mock-turtleneck, body-conscious dress in a tonal black pattern — spent the evening graciously chatting with fans and doling out compliments as women tried on (and purchased) her designs. She also sipped the Pink & Soda cocktail from Beefeater Pink, which she later requested at a private event at Casa Tua restaurant.
Tennis pro Caroline Wozniacki, former NBA champion David Lee and former NFL player Bryant McKinnie were among the attendees.
The clothing line, which uses high-quality fabrics to make pieces all under $200, has the mantra “Be Seen, Be Heard.” Williams expanded on that philosophy, saying, “Women are allowed to be happy, we’re allowed to be sad, we’re allowed to be angry, we’re allowed to be glad. What’s wrong with that?”
When Williams launched the line in May, she said the pieces were “inspired by femininity and strength.” Speaking to PEOPLE at the launch of her L.A. pop-up shop for her Serena Collection earlier this month, Williams said her vision still includes those elements as the foundation, but it has also evolved.
“I find my inspirations through aspiration and aspirational people,” she said, “so our collection right now is really about all aspiration.”