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Serena Williams wears custom-made French Open outfit after catsuit ban

Nike ensemble marks second collaboration between tennis player and designer Virgil Abloh

Sabrina Barr
Tuesday 28 May 2019 16:20 BST
Serena Williams explains her “Wakanda-inspired catsuit”

Serena Williams has raised the sartorial stakes at this year’s French Open, wearing a custom-made Nike outfit for her opening match of the tournament a year after being banned from wearing a catsuit.

The tennis player’s new ensemble was designed by Virgil Abloh, founder of fashion label Off-White and artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection.

Williams gave her fans a first glimpse of the black-and-white outfit in pictures shared on Twitter and Instagram on Saturday, before stepping out onto the clay court in another version of the design two days later.

The ensemble features a black and white crop top, skort and netted midriff.

It also comes with a cape emblazoned with the words "Mother, Champion, Queen, Goddess" written in French, although the tennis player didn't wear the cape during the match.

This isn’t the first time the 23-time Grand Slam winner has made a bold fashion statement at the French Open.

At last year’s competition, Williams wore a black catsuit designed by Nike, which she said made her feel like a “warrior princess”.

Serena Williams at French Open 2019 in outfit designed by Virgil Abloh for Nike (Getty Images)

However, three months later French Open president Bernard Giudicelli announced a stricter dress code at the tournament, saying that Williams and other participants of the competition would not be allowed to wear outfits of a similar ilk in future in order "to respect the game and the place" with their choice of attire.

“It’s a bit late because the collections are already designed but we are going to nonetheless ask the manufacturers to let us know what is coming,” he told Tennis Magazine, referring to designs made by sports brands for tennis players at the French Open.

“I believe we have sometimes gone too far. Serena’s outfit this year, for example, would no longer be accepted.”

Williams’s compression catsuit had been designed to help prevent blood clots, something she had struggled with following the birth of her daughter nine months prior.

When asked at a press conference for her views on the catsuit ban, Williams responded: "When it comes to fashion, you don't want to be a repeat offender."

The tennis star’s latest sporting ensemble has been praised by scores of her fans.

“Design by a king, wearing by a queen #blackexcellence,” one person commented on Instagram.

“They tried to say ‘no catsuit’, so I’m gonna give you COMPLETE GLAMOUR!!!! Yes Queen!!!!!” another added.

Someone else remarked that Williams was “bringing more fire and style to tennis”.

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This isn’t the first time Williams and Abloh have collaborated together.

In August last year, following the announcement of the catsuit ban, Williams appeared at the US Open wearing a custom-designed tutu dress by Abloh.

The athlete completed the look with compression fishnet tights and a pair of silver NikeCourt Flare sneakers.

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