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Why Serena Williams wears black tape on her face during tennis competitions

The tennis star reportedly opened up about her sinus issues back in 2007.

Amber Raiken
New York
Wednesday 31 August 2022 07:58 BST

Related: Serena Williams Reveals Her GOATS

As Serena Williams has worn a piece of black face tape on the right side of her cheek at multiple tennis tournaments, including Wimbledon this year, fans have been wondering what the facial accessory is for.

According toThe Times, it is believed that the 40-year-old tennis champion wears kinesiology tape on her face to help relieve any pain and pressure caused by her long standing sinuses issues.

While Williams has not yet publicly addressed why she wears the two strips of tape, she has previously discussed her sinus problems and how they impacted her career.

“My secret’s out. I’m a sinus sufferer. Playing tennis or pretty much doing anything every day is not easy when you have sinuses,” she told reporters in 2007 at the launch of a campaign for sinus medication, according to Reuters. “You feel a lot of pressure, congestion and pain and training for grand slams such as the ones coming up like Wimbledon and the French Open, it’s not easy.”

“It’s not easy to play when you have all this pressure,” she added. “The last thing I want to do is go out on a tennis court and play (sister) Venus and be tired. That’s not fun at all, especially against her, she’s so tough.”

Williams also shared some tips for managing her sinus issues, which included not using “so much ice in [her] beverages,” as it can intensify any pain that she feels. She specified even more techniques for keeping her nasal “passageways” clear, which included exercise and hot showers.

“I’ve learned taking hot, hot showers -- as hot as you can stand it -- helps clear those passageways. And working out helps a lot. That keeps you clear, keeps your chest clear and keeps everything clear,” she said. “I’ve got the working out part right, but I’m still working on ice in my drinks because I like my drinks cold all the time.”

Kinesio (KT) tape is often used by physical therapists as a way to treat their patients’ pain due to sports injuries and to “improve athletic performance,” as noted by the Cleveland Clinic. The elastic sports bandage, which comes in long strips, is usually placed on top of a muscle.

The medical site also notes that even though the tape may help with the pain, there hasn’t been any reported long-term benefits of it. During an interview with USA Today, CEO of KT Tape Greg Venner addressed how much company has enjoyed seeing Olympic athletes use the tape. However, he also expressed that “KT Tape doesn’t endorse the use of kinesiology tape on the face as it isn’t clinically tested”.

During her first match at the US Open, Williams wasn’t wearing her usual face tape, and she has not yet confirmed if the tape is for her sinus issues or not.

On Monday night, the Grand Slam advanced to the second round of the US Open, after winning the first match of her farewell season. Williams announced her retirement earlier this month in an essay published by Vogue, where said that she wanted to focus more on her family, including her four-year-old daughter, Alexis Olympia, who she shares with husband Alexis Ohanian.

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