Nike issues comeback after French Open bans Serena Williams’ catsuit

Officials at the French Open have announced they will ban Serena Williams’ signature black catsuit from future tournaments.

Last May Serena Williams turning heads at the French Open with her black, full-body garment. Specially designed for her by Nike, the suit may have been created before Black Panther’s release, but Williams says it makes her think of Wakanda, the fictional nation in the movie.

The catsuit, however, actually serves a medical purpose. Williams suffered severe health problems and notably blood clots after the recent birth of her first child. The catsuit provides compression, preventing new clots from forming. But for Williams and her millions of fans, it’s now come to symbolize women’s empowerment.

“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 told The Guardian. “I always wanted to be a superhero and it’s kind of my way of being a superhero.”

French Tennis Federation or fashion police?

French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli recently introduced a new dress code for the tournament, believing some tennis players’ attires have “gone too far.” Giudicelli added that they have to “respect the game and place.” 

But what will these new rules the Federation is putting in place entail? French officials don’t want to commit themselves to anything as straightforward as decreeing that specific colours or clothing items are off-limits. Instead, they seem to be taking a we’ll-know-it-when-we-see-it approach; they plan to decide on a case-by-case basis, requiring athletes to submit their outfits for review before each tournament. Yet they haven’t even explained what it is that goes too far about Williams’s catsuit, especially in a sport where miniskirts are the norm.

Nike posts their support for the tennis star

If all this makes you upset, you’re not alone. During a press conference, Williams responded in style to the ban and lay any rumours of tension between her and Giudicelli to rest stating, “we have a great relationship.” With a smile, she added, “Everything’s fine, guys.” Williams also explained that she had since found other ways to address the ban without wearing the catsuit.

“[Besides], when it comes to fashion, you don’t want to be a repeat offender. So it’ll be a while before this even has to come up again.”

However Nike, who’s been a longtime sponsor of Williams, responded to the ban on its official Twitter account saying, “You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers.” 

What are your thoughts on the French Open’s ban? Do you think they should dictate how athletes should dress? Share your opinions below or on social media.


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