Serena Williams Responds to French Open Catsuit Controversy

When it comes to the French Open’s catsuit ban, it seems that Serena Williams is the only one who isn’t angry.

After the president of the French Tennis Federation announced a stricter dress code for next year’s tournament — specifically calling out the superhero-like Nike catsuit Williams wore as unacceptable — social media was enraged by the restrictions.  Nike, Andy Roddick and Billie Jean King all took to Twitter to share their support for the 23-time Grand Slam winner.

Serena Williams (USA) in actionFrench Open Tennis Championships, Day Five, Roland Garros, Paris, France - 31 May 2018
Serena Williams wears a Nike catsuit at the French Open.
CREDIT: Dave Shopland/Shutterstock

But Williams herself shrugged off these concerns in a press conference at the U.S. Open yesterday.

I think that obviously the Grand Slams have a right to do what they want to do,” she said, adding that she has spoken to the Federation’s president, Bernard Giudicelli, and that they have a good relationship.

Much of the criticism was directed toward Giudicelli, who said of the catsuit, “[It] will no longer be accepted … One must respect the game and the place.

Although Williams’ ensemble certainly made a fashion statement, it was also a practical measure, with the compression tights regulating Williams’ blood circulation in the wake of post-pregnancy health complications.

Williams said she had since found other ways to manage her blood circulation but that she believes the French Open would be fine with health-related clothing decisions.

If they know that some things are for health reasons, then there’s no way that they wouldn’t be OK with it. So I think it’s fine,” the tennis pro said.

Williams’ first U.S. Open match is Monday, but don’t expect to see her in a catsuit on the court anytime soon.

When it comes to fashion, you don’t want to be a repeat offender,” Williams said. She’ll be wearing a buzzed-about Virgil Abloh-designed look as she steps out Monday. She will square off against Magda Linette in the first round.

Click through the gallery to see more of Serena Williams’ on-court style.

AGL Sponsored By AGL

Differentiating Through Data and Design

Footwear brand AGL puts forth a contemporary and cool aesthetic rooted in quality and Italian craftsmanship.
Learn More

Access exclusive content