Serena Williams' Catsuit Has Been Banned From The French Open For A Confusing Reason
On Friday, the French Tennis Federation President Bernard Giudicelli said he's instituting a stricter dress code for the French Open. The reason? He doesn't want Serena Williams' catsuit on the court at Roland Garros anymore.
"I think that sometimes we've gone too far," Giudicelli told Tennis Magazine, according to The Associated Press. "It will no longer be accepted. One must respect the game and the place." Giudicelli said the federation will be asking the brands who designed players' outfits for the 2019 tournament for an early look at their uniforms, according to The Associated Press.
Williams wore the black bodysuit at the French Open in May, where she beat Kristyna Pliskova, according to BBC. Later, Williams told reporters that the "comfortable" suit made her feel like "a superhero."
"I feel like a warrior wearing it, a queen from Wakanda maybe," she said after the tournament, referring to the hit Marvel movie Black Panther, according to the BBC. "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."
Tennis fans and legends alike quickly weighed in on the news on social media. Fans said the ban was motivated by racism, sexism, and misogynoir. "The policing of women's bodies must end," Billie Jean King tweeted. "The 'respect' that's needed is for the exceptional talent @serenawilliams brings to the game. Criticizing what she wears to work is where the true disrespect lies."
The French Open was her first Grand Slam tournament since giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr., in 2017. The suit was designed to help Williams's circulation and help prevent blood clots.
"I've had a lot of problems with my blood clots, God I don't know how many I've had in the past 12 months," Williams said after her win in May, according to NPR. "I've been wearing pants in general a lot when I play so I can keep the blood circulation going."
The birth of her daughter was followed by what Williams described to Vogue as "a six-day drama." She suffered a pulmonary embolism, which brought on intense coughing that ripped her C-section stitches. Then, Williams developed a large hematoma in her stomach. The complications nearly killed the 23-time Grand Slam winner.
Williams said she thought the suit, in addition to its functionality, could help inspire a new group of people: new mothers. "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," she said after the match, according to the Boston Globe.
Nike — the brand that designed Williams's catsuit and has a prominent white logo on the nearly all-black outfit — tweeted out its support of the tennis champion. "You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers," the tweet read along with a black-and-white photo of Williams at the French Open.
News of the catsuit ban comes right as Williams will again be in the spotlight. The U.S. Open starts Monday in New York. It will be the 36-year-old's third Grand Slam tournament since giving birth. Williams is seeded 17th, just one spot behind her sister Venus, according to ESPN.
"White does not include off white or cream," according to the tournament website. There are a few exceptions for small bands of color that are "no wider than one centimetre."
The next French Open isn't until May 26, 2019, and it remains to be seen if Williams will participate with a ban specifically aimed at her wardrobe choices, which also help protect her health.