Surely latex might very well someday play a prominent and consistent part in the textile art of tennis couture. But what Serena Williams continues to bring to the game, in her play and in what she wears, is unique, to say the least.
One might recall the 23-time grand slam champion wowing as well as even angering some at last year’s French Open appearance. At the 2018 French Open Serena took court in a “Black Panther” catsuit, as much for fashion as functionality, she claimed. At the time, Bernard Giudicelli, the French Tennis Federation president declared “I think that sometimes we’ve gone too far” over Serena’s playing couture. He even claimed that he would introduce a new dress code for the courts. Serena countered that she wore what she did as much as a statement as for practicality. She had suffered life-threatening blood clots after the birth of her daughter a year before, and the specially designed compression elements of her catsuit helped with that problem.
For this year’s appearance at the same competition, Serena revealed her latest gown on Instagram prior to play. Posing in a black-and-white striped gown Serena’s outfit this year featured (in French) the words ‘Mother,’ ‘Champion,’ ‘Queen’ and ‘Goddess.’ This play wear design was created by Virgil Abloh, the founder of Nike’s luxury streetwear brand, “Off-White.” Abloh also designed the tutu Williams wore in the 2018 US Open.
Serena wore a smaller version of this same gown to win her match to Vitalia Diatchenko on Monday.
Surely the Nike brand is as prominently featured in William’s outfits as are the statements she makes, blatantly or not. But whether statement, sexy fashion blowback to gender stereotype, a form of player self-expression, or marketing ploy, the Serena Williams’ of the game (and granted there is only one Serena Williams) seems to be doing—and saying—exactly what she wants in the way she wants.