When Serena Williams took the Roland Garros court less than a year after giving birth to her daughter, she told reporters the form-fitting black catsuit she wore for the French Open made her feel like like a “queen from Wakanda” — a reference to the empowering “Black Panther” film in theaters at the time.
Now, French tennis officials have banned the fashionable suit and others like it.
Upon announcing a stricter dress code for the 2019 French Open, French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli said, “I think that sometimes we’ve gone too far,” according to the Associated Press.
Following this year’s French Open, where Williams withdrew due to injury in the fourth round, Giudicelli suggested this change could be coming, specifically referencing Serena’s catsuit in telling Tennis Magazine, “It will no longer be accepted. One must respect the game and the place.”
Williams said the catsuit made her feel like a superhero
Given every reason Williams cited for wearing it, this seems more disrespectful than the catsuit.
“It feels like this suit represents all the women that have been through a lot mentally, physically, with their body to come back and have confidence and to believe in themselves,” Williams said from Paris this past June, following her major win since the birth of her daughter. “I feel like a warrior in it, like a warrior princess kind of, 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.”
Williams is a three-time champion at the French Open.
Williams was not the first woman to wear a bodysuit
Giudicelli said the French Open’s dress code will not be as rigid as Wimbledon, where players are required to wear white, but “certain limits” will be imposed. When American tennis player Anne White wore a white bodysuit for Wimbledon in 1995, she was told by officials not to wear the suit again.
What was once a scandalous outfit is now, if not de rigueur, simply no big deal, thanks to fashion taste makers like Serena Williams. Well done @serenawilliams for your fashion tribute to Anne White and her 1985 Wimbledon outfit. pic.twitter.com/FCGONKXLA1
— Alexis Shabadoo Jr. (@JDGoodness) May 29, 2018
Per the Associated Press, the French Tennis Federation will seek “an advance look” in order to rule on whether uniforms already in design for players at next year’s French Open meet the new dress code. It will be fascinating to see how officials enforce the new rules and whether the same applies to men.
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