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‘Champion, queen, mother, goddess’: Serena’s latest fashion statement

Serena Williams’ French Open outfit contains a hidden message

 

ONE year after a French tennis official took issue with the black cat suit she wore at the 2018 French Open, Serena Williams made a strong fashion statement in her return to Roland Garros tennis tournament in Paris on Monday.

Williams, a 23-time grand slam champion, strode onto Philippe Chatrier Court in a billowy, black and white striped outfit that consisted of an asymmetrical skirt and long-sleeved blousy jacket that fluttered in the late afternoon breeze.

She then overcame a slow start, eventually finding the range on her serve and groundstrokes to rally for a 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 victory against Russia’s Vitalia Diatchenko, 28, who is ranked 83rd in the world.

Williams had given a preview of the outfit via an Instagram post on Sunday, alongside its creator, fashion designer Virgil Abloh, founder of the Milan-based label Off-White and the men’s designer at Louis Vuitton’s menswear line.

It’s not just Serena’s incredible tennis skills that draw her fans — the G.O.A.T. (Greatest Of All Times) tennis star also has an eye for style, appearing during tournaments in some seriously show-stopping outfits. At the French Open last year when she caused a controversy over her specially designed Nike cat suit. It was her first time back on the Grand Slam circuit since giving birth to daughter Alexis Olympia, and the outfit was designed to help prevent blood clots (she has a history of them and was at risk from being post-partum).

The French Open didn’t love the look, and Bernard Giudicelli, the president of the French Tennis Federation, announced a new dress code a few weeks later that would prohibit similar looks (the Women’s Tennis Association in the U.S., for their part, gave it a green light).

Now, William’s returned to the French Open on Sunday, day two of the tournament, wearing another statement look for her match — and while it’s not a cat suit, it does contain a hidden message that asserts her worth on and off the court.

On Sunday Williams made her grand return to the French Open, winning her first round against Diatchenko. With all eyes on her, Williams did not disappoint: She wore a custom performance outfit by Off-White’s  Abloh for Nike involving a black and white two-piece with a matching cape printed with French words for “Mother, Champion, Queen, Goddess.”

It was a nontraditional look to be sure, and the fact that it championed female empowerment in French—the very words Williams has used to describe her much-maligned French Open look of 2018—was very clever indeed. It seemed to say, “I’ll take your cat suit bam and raise it.”

“It’s the second time we’ve worked together,” Williams said of collaborating with Abloh, who also designed performance wear for her at the U.S. Open. “It has words in it in French. It talks about me being a mom and me being a queen, as all women are. A champion. It’s positive reinforcement for me, and I kind of love that.” Williams advanced to the second round, Tuesday, promising there would be more winning on-court fashion moments to come, too.

-Reported by Correspondents and Agencies

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