Serena Williams laughs off French Open catsuit ban and ignores favourite tag ahead of US Open

Williams also said she had talked this week to Bernard Giudicelli, the president of the French federation, and insisted that they had ‘a great relationship’

Paul Newman
New York
Saturday 25 August 2018 17:38 BST
Serena Williams explains her “Wakanda-inspired catsuit”

Serena Williams’ catsuit outfit, to which organisers of the French Open eventually took exception, is unlikely to be seen in the foreseeable future, but not because of any dress code imposed by tournaments. “When it comes to fashion, you don’t want to be a repeat offender,” Williams said with a smile here on Saturday as she looked forward to the US Open, which starts on Monday.

Williams also said she had talked this week to Bernard Giudicelli, the president of the French federation, and insisted that they had “a great relationship”. The former world No 1 had medical reasons for wearing the catsuit in Paris. She has a history of blood clots and said the outfit helped with her circulation.

Although the Roland-Garros authorities made no objection to the catsuit at the time, Giudicelli said in a magazine interview this week that such attire would not be acceptable in the future.

“I think we sometimes went too far,” he said. “The combination of Serena this year, for example, it will no longer be accepted. You have to respect the game and the place.” Williams said here today that she had found “other solutions” to the health issue with her circulation. “I wear tights that keep everything going with my blood, make sure that I’m staying pretty healthy out there,” she said.

The 36-year-old American said that Giudicelli had been “really amazing” and insisted: “He’s been so easy to talk to. My whole team is basically French, so, we have a wonderful relationship. I’m sure we would come to an understanding and everything will be OK. It wouldn’t be a big deal. I think that obviously the Grand Slams have a right to do what they want to do. I feel like if and when, or if they know that some things are for health reasons, then there’s no way that they wouldn’t be OK with it. So I think it’s fine.”

The bookmakers see Williams as the favourite to win the title here, which she described as “quite interesting” given that it was less than a year since she had given birth to her first child. Although she reached last month’s Wimbledon final, Williams has won only one match in her two subsequent tournaments.

Serena Williams kitted out in her black bodysuit at the French Open (Getty Images)

“It doesn’t matter to me,” Williams said. “I just continue to strive. That’s the message I’ve been preaching to women and people, that we face obstacles. You have to face those obstacles. Whether you get through them or not, there’s always another chance to get through them. You have to continue to work hard and believe in yourself. Things don’t always go your way, but continue to climb that mountain.”

Williams said that playing the US Open as a mother was a new experience. “If anything, I have more fire in my belly,” she said. “It’s very difficult to describe. I thought after having a child I would be more relaxed. I think I’ve said this before, but I’m not. I work just as hard, if not harder actually. I just feel like I take it just as seriously, if not more so. That’s been really surprising for me.”

She added: “I definitely am more of a high-strung person where everything is dramatic for me, but I’ve been working on just taking things more easy and being more light. Most of all, just being nicer to myself, trying to take moments where I can relax and I can just take different things and I can be easier.”

At Wimbledon Williams took her daughter, Olympia, on to Centre Court before the tournament to show the stadium to her, but she has not brought her to Arthur Ashe Stadium. “It’s a very long drive and Olympia is not very good in the car,” Williams said. “That’s one of the toughest things we work on. She’s not good if we’re more than a five-minute ride.We’ll have time next year.”

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