Serena Williams stands by her iconic catsuit moment.
The incomparable athlete took a trip down memory lane Fashion‘s Life in Looks series, which breaks down 22 of her most notable looks.
Though she’s no newbie to the world of high fashion – and has a particular fondness for Versace – some of the tennis stars’ most iconic outfits have been worn on the very courts where they changed the game of tennis forever.
In 2018, less than a year after the birth of daughter Olympia, Serena Williams wore a custom black Nike catsuit to that year’s French Open.
“This is my first Grand Slam after the Olympics and I was like, ‘I worked so hard on these pigtails I’m going to keep them,’ so I left them in and wore catsuits, but never wore them like a long catsuit.” , Williams said of the all-in-one ensemble.
The skin-tight one-piece suit was hit admiration from the fans who loved the super sleek look, a change from the traditional athletic skirts and tops associated with tennis.
The French Tennis Federation was not so enthusiastic.
After the tournament, FTF President Bernard Giudicelli said tennis magazine that the federation would implement a “dress code” because “sometimes we went too far,” he said, implying that Williams’ overalls disregarded the game of tennis.
“Serena’s outfit this year, for example, is no longer accepted. You have to respect the game and the place. Everyone wants to enjoy the show,” he said.
Fans defied the federation’s opinion – as did Nike, the mastermind behind the sheath outfit, who tweeted their support for Serena’s skills regardless of the attire.
While she said the look made her feel a “Warrior Princess,” it also served a functional purpose.
“I had to wear it because it was due to compression issues with my blood. So I had to have a full understanding because I think the Olympics were six months at that point,” Serena said.
But functionality aside, Williams didn’t understand the backlash surrounding her clothes.
“That was really cool where I wore a body part like that and people were mad about it. I could not believe it. They said, ‘You shouldn’t wear that’, well, people, the French Open, were kind of upset about that, and I was like, ‘Why not?’ she said in the new video.
Williams said she explained to the association that the coverall was a medical necessity and that, albeit reluctantly, it understood her reasoning.
“I told them, ‘No, no, no, you don’t understand. It’s for my health, I have to wear that somehow, and they understood when I said that. They weren’t very happy about it, but they got it.” She said.
It doesn’t look like Serena or the federation will have to worry about wardrobe issues for the foreseeable future as the sports giant announced her plans to retire on Tuesday in an issue of Fashion.
“I’m here to tell you I’m evolving away from tennis and into other things that are important to me,” she wrote for the magazine.
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