A year after French Open officials banned Serena Williams’ catsuit — a getup that made her feel like a “warrior princess” from Wakanda and helped prevent the blood clotting she experienced after giving birth to her daughter, Olympia — the superstar has returned with another empowering outfit.
"I feel like a warrior in it, like a warrior princess kind of, (a) queen from Wakanda.
I'm always living in a fantasy world. I always wanted to be a superhero, and it's kind of my way of being a superhero.
I feel like a superhero when I wear it."
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 29, 2018
If you can recall, the French Tennis Federation President, Bernard Giudicelli, said at the time of the outfit,
“It will no longer be allowed. One must respect the game and the place. I think that sometimes we’ve gone too far.”
What a ridiculous, sexist statement. It’s no wonder that this statement provoked a massive backlash.
Williams, who has won an Open Era record of 23 Grand Slam titles– one of them while pregnant– has done invaluable work for the game, and for the visibility (and profitability) of tennis.
She is unquestionably one of the greatest athletes in the world and if anything, the game of tennis needs to respect her. Can you imagine any sport trying to impose such arbitrary restrictions on its male superstars?
— Blanche NeverHo (@Black_Daria1) May 27, 2019
Designed by Nike’s Virgil Abloh, this year’s French Open uniform is a black-and-white ensemble consisting of a crop top, skirt, and (another superhero accessory) a cape, and features the words “mother,” “champion,” “queen” and “goddess” in French.
Abloh also designed the tutu that she wore all the way to the finals of the US Open last year.
In a statement released about the outfit, Williams said,
“I love when fashion becomes a vehicle for sharing a powerful message. With Nike and Virgil, we’ve created pieces that aim to inspire a new generation of athletes everywhere.”
And more specifically, female athletes.
With much effort, Williams’ outfits are demolishing outdated notions of what it means to be a female tennis player and, in a larger sense, to be feminine. Female tennis players shouldn’t have to wear “girlie” skirts. They can do what whatever they want.