Tennis phenom Serena Williams has been serving superhero and fashion goals for as long as we can remember. And, her appearance at the US Open Monday (Aug. 27) night in New York was no exception.
The 23-time Grand Slam singles champion took down her opponent in her first home slam since becoming a mother while rocking a striking one-shoulder dress designed by Virgil Abloh. The $500 dress featured black and brown color-blocking and a tiered tulle skirt for a tutu effect.
The statement-making look came just days after French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli singled out Serena for her black compression catsuit she debuted at the French Open in Paris this past May.
“I think that sometimes we’ve gone too far,” he told Tennis Magazine. “It will no longer be accepted. One must respect the game and the place.”
Serena’s Nike-designed catsuit was more function than fashion, created as a potentially life-saving tool to help the tennis great avoid blood clots by improving her blood circulation. It also spoke to her sports royalty.
She said the catsuit made her feel like “a superhero” at the tournament. “I feel like a warrior in it, like a warrior princess, a queen from Wakanda maybe,” she said.
This isn’t the first time a woman has donned a catsuit for the game. Anne White donned an all-white version in Wimbledon 1985. There was no banning then. But, Giudicelli’s remarks follow an ongoing trend of attempts at body shaming the icon for her physique and her blackness.
Serena, however, took the critique better than her fans and fellow athletes who called out against the “policing of women’s bodies.”
“When it comes to fashion you don’t want to be a repeat offender,” she jokingly said during a press conference Monday.
Instead, the 36-year-old created a new fashion moment, while beating 68th-ranked Magda Linette of Poland.
The dress is part of new “Queen” collection created in collaboration between Nike and Virgil, who is artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection and founder of Off-White.
“It’s easy to play in,” Serena said in a post-match news conference. “Kind of aerodynamic with the one arm free. It feels really good. Yeah, the tutu is easy to play in because I practiced in it before. That was fun.”