The tennis champion donned a, now famous, Black Panther’-inspired catsuit, which she said made her feel like a “warrior princess.”
“I call it, like, my Wakanda-inspired catsuit,” she revealed. “We designed it way before the movie, but still, it kind of reminds me of that. 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.”
As well as offering a fierce reminder to her competitors that she was back, the epic outfit also served a very important purpose.
Having a history of blood clots and being particularly at risk having recently given birth, to daughter Alexis Olympia, the suit had been specifically designed to help prevent those blood clots forming while she did her thing on court.
But despite being hugely symbolic of her return to the industry, Serena’s outfit didn’t go down well with everyone.
During an interview with Tennis Magazine, French Tennis Federation President, Bernard Giudicelli, stated: “We are going to ask the manufacturers to let us know what is coming. I believe we have sometimes gone too far. Serena’s outfit this year, for example, would no longer be accepted. You have to respect the game and the place.”
Unsurprisingly, the ban sparked widespread outrage on social media with users calling out Giudicelli for his sexist remarks.
So now, the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has decided to clarify the rules surrounding female players’ clothing, including compression pieces like Serena’s now famous catsuit.
“Leggings and mid-thigh-length compression shorts may be worn with or without a skirt, shorts, or dress,” the organisation wrote, as reported by the BBC.
That doesn’t necessarily mean she will be able to re-wear the catsuit at next year’s French Open if Bernard Giudicelli’s pledge to introduce stricter dress codes goes ahead.
But following his comments, Serena revealed she probably wouldn’t be wearing the catsuit again anyway. She’s all about making new style statements, you see.
“When it comes to fashion, you don’t want to be a repeat offender,” she told ESPN.
The revised rules also mean new mums returning to tennis will have increased protection for their rankings on the WTA Tour from next season.
Once again Serena was at the heart of the issue when she returned to tennis after the birth of her daughter. While she was able to use her protected ranking to enter as many as eight tournaments without qualifying over a 12-month period, the 23-times grand slam champion was not guaranteed to be seeded.
Under the new rules the WTA will now guarantee that returning players won’t face seeded competitors in the early rounds but how they’re seeded in these tournaments remains at the discretion of officials.
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