The catsuit is out. The tutu is in.
Serena Williams, champion and budding fashion designer, debuted a new look at the U.S. Open and it’s one more evocative of dance than tennis. Rather than the catsuit she sported in Paris, the one recently banned by French Open officials, she is rocking a single-sleeved tennis dress that sweeps into a layers of tulle over shorts. She adds dark fishnet compression shorts, both fashionable and prescriptive after her postpartum bout with blood clots last year, and sparkly Nike shoes along with socks that bear her initialed logo.
“When I first tried on the dress, I felt very strong and feminine at the same time. It has all the really strong elements, from the leather to that really cool stretchy material,” Williams told Vogue. “I felt so feminine in the tutu, which is probably my favorite part of it. It really embodies what I always say: that you can be strong and beautiful at the same time.”
Wednesday’s look was all lavender, the dress part of the Off-White x Nike Queen Collection designed for her by Virgil Abloh.
“What I love about tennis is the gracefulness. It’s an aggressive and powerful game, but it takes touch and finesse,” says Abloh. “So the dress is feminine, but combines her aggression. It’s partially revealing. It’s asymmetrical. It has a sort of ballerina-esque silhouette to symbolize her grace. It’s not about bells and whistles and tricks. It’s just about it living on the body, and expressing Serena’s spirit with each swing of the racket.”
Which means that it’s doubly impossible to look away when the 23-time Grand Slam champion is on the court.
Gone, at least in France, is that catsuit. Bernard Giudicelli, president of the French Tennis Federation, announced that a dress code that proscribes the look would be in place next year. “I think sometimes we’ve gone too far,” he said (via the Associated Press). “It will no longer be accepted. One must respect the game and the place.”
Although that was initially interpreted as a dig at Williams, she wasn’t offended. “I don’t know exactly what he seemed to say or what he didn’t seem to say or what. We already talked. Like I said, we have a great relationship,” she told reporters Saturday. “We talked yesterday, yeah. Everything’s fine, guys.”
One reason she is content to move on from the look that made her feel “like a warrior” out of “Black Panther” had everything to do with style and nothing to do with tennis.
“When it comes to fashion,” she said with a smile, “you don’t want to be a repeat offender.”
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