On Friday, French Tennis Federation chief Bernard Giudicelli announced a dress code for the 2019 French Open; in it, he noted that the black Nike catsuit Serena Williams wore to last year’s tennis tournament would now be inappropriate. “I think that sometimes we've gone too far,” Giudicelli said in an interview with Tennis magazine, singling out Williams' look. “It will no longer be accepted. One must respect the game and the place.” Moving forward, Giudicelli is calling for a dress code where players will wear mostly white — not off white or cream, he clarified.
Williams, who has won the French Open three times, spoke out about her catsuit in May, and its powers of protection “I've always wanted to be a superhero, and it's kind of my way of being a superhero. 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,” she said. “I've been wearing pants in general a lot when I play so I can keep the blood circulation going.”
But Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.’s mom isn’t letting the ruling get her down. “I've since found other methods [for encouraging blood circulation], and when it comes to fashion you don't want to be a repeat offender,” Williams told reporters during a press conference for the U.S. Open. “It will be awhile before this has to come up again.”
While we may not hear about the catsuit again, this is just another instance where Williams, like many other Black female athletes, were made to feel they were doing too much. Like the controversies surrounding Williams' hair when it was beaded, she follows in the footsteps of women like Florence Griffith Joyner — a.k.a. Flo Jo — who brought as much glamour to track and field as she did speed, and Gail Devers, whose long nails were practically unheard of for the sport. That's why, ahead, we're celebrating a few Black women who didn't just break records, but did it in style.