French Open may reconsider Serena Williams catsuit ban after backlash

PARIS, FRANCE – MAY 29: Serena Williams of The United States plays a forehand during her ladies singles first round match against Kristyna Pliskova of Czech Republic during day three of the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros on May 29, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)


After the French Federation jumped the gun and banned a catsuit worn by Serena Williams at the US open, they now may have to eat crow and reconsider.

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The controversial suit that had the tennis star looking like a Wakandan warrior was banned by French Open officials after it dominated headlines. But the suit was worn by the new mom for health reasons and to help restrict blood clots. Williams has since talked to the Federation, and they may change their policy, the NY Post reports.

“I feel like if and when they know that some things are for health reasons, then there’s no way that they wouldn’t be OK with it,” Serena Williams said. “So I think it’s fine. The [French Federation] president, he’s been really amazing. He’s been so easy to talk to. My whole team is basically French, so we have a wonderful relationship. Yeah, I’m sure we would come to an understanding and everything will be OK.”

But instead of asking her about it, the black catsuit was banned and now that French Open officials know it had to do with Williams’ health, they might reexamine the policy. Williams said she’s found other things to wear.

“I’ve since found other methods,’’ she said. “When it comes to fashion, you don’t want to be a repeat offender. It will be a while before this even has to come up again.”

Following the ban there was an outcry from supporters like Nike, and tennis legend Billie Jean King, who took issue with the policing of a Black woman’s body.

Tonight, as Williams makes her return to the US Open, she says she is more charged than ever.

“If anything, I have more fire in my belly,” Williams said at Saturday’s press conference. “It’s very difficult to describe. I thought after having a child I would be more relaxed. But I’m not. I work just as hard — harder actually. I just feel like I take it as serious if not more. That’s really surprising to me.”

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The Catsuit Controversy

When Williams stepped out in a skin-tight black catsuit at this year’s French Open in 2017, it sparked both outrage and praise among fans across social media. At the time, the tennis champ remarked that the Nike ensemble made her feel like a “queen from Wakanda.”

But according to the Associated Press, the French Tennis Federation wasn’t feeling the look, so a new dress code has been implemented that bans her from rockin’ the onesie in next year’s installment.

“I think that sometimes we’ve gone too far,” French Tennis Federation President Bernard Giudicelli explained to The AP in reference to players’ outfits which have become too unique for the sport.

“It will no longer be accepted. One must respect the game and the place,” he added.

As noted by PEOPLE, back in May, when reporters asked Williams about her choice of style for the court, she said: “I’ve always wanted to be a superhero, and it’s kind of my way of being a superhero.”

And when word of Guidicelle’s comments reached Nike, the company was quick to jump to Serena Williams defense in a powerful tweet: “You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers.”

And Nike’s new ad, which debuted today, makes it clear that no matter what Serena Williams wears she’s always a champion.