After the French Open banned catsuits, Serena Williams responded with an empowering outfit.
Tennis player Serena Williams is a queen at taking criticism that has been levelled at her and responding to it with grace, or turning it into something that empowers her.
From her Nike ad which answers back to insults hurled at her and other women athletes to the way she shut down a sexist question at a press conference, Williams knows the best way to triumph over critics is to just be brilliant self.
Which is exactly what she did at this year’s French Open. If you’ll remember, at 2018’s tournament, Williams wore a full body catsuit to play in. The catsuit helped to prevent blood clots, something which Williams struggled with after giving birth in 2017.
But that wasn’t good enough for the French Tennis Federation, which instituted a ban on catsuits at the tournament in the future.
So for this year’s French Open, Williams abided by the ban, and what she turned up in was pure fire.
The collaboration between Off-White’s Virgil Abloh and Nike consists of a cape jacket and a full-length skirt with a split, both of which can then be taken off to reveal her court outfit, a crop top and a tennis skirt.
The entire ensemble is great from a distance, but it’s even better once you get close up and see the hidden messages on the print.
The jacket and skirt are imprinted with four words in French that sum up the many facets of Williams: mother, champion, queen, goddess.
It’s a powerful statement from Williams, and one that speaks to her confidence and the way she is multiple things at the same time.
Since having her daughter Olympia with husband Alexis Ohanian, Williams has openly spoken about how being a mother has changed the way she thinks and her priorities, and how her true victory is in still being alive and being able to play tennis, even if she’s not winning.
By proudly proclaiming her many identities on her clothes Williams is sending a message to the French Tennis Federation, which dared to judge her based on her outfit last year, as well as to critics who have pigeonholed her.
That’s important in a world where women, especially black women, are often underestimated. So just in case anyone forgets how amazing Williams is, they only need to look at her clothes to be reminded that she’s a mother, champion, queen and goddess.