Serena Williams is no longer permitted to wear her highly-praised, skin-tight black compression bodysuit at the French Open.
Bernard Giudicelli, the French Tennis Federation president, is introducing a dress code to future French Opens because “I think that sometimes we’ve gone too far,” notes The Associated Press.
Giudicelli specifically singled out Williams’ black suit, which she wore this year at Roland Garros, which she has said makes her feel like a superhero, and which she wears to promote blood circulation and prevent the blood clots which once nearly took her life.
“t will no longer be accepted, said Giudicelli. “One must respect the game and the place.” Though he mentioned that Roland Garros’ future rules won’t be as strict as those at Wimbledon—where players are required to wear all white—no additional detail were given by Giudicelli or the FTF regarding their issue with Williams’ catsuit or other details pertaining to the future dress code.
Serena Williams pulled out of the 2018 French Open after injuring a chest muscle.
Williams explained the bodysuit last May, telling reporters it was designed to help prevent the types of blood clots that nearly killed her after she gave birth to her daughter that previous September.
“I had a lot of problems with my blood clots. God, I don’t know how many I’ve had in the last 12 months,” said Williams.
The suit was created with this utilitarian purpose in mind, though it didn’t stop Williams from feeling like a badass in it.
“I feel like a warrior in it, like a warrior princess kind of queen from Wakanda maybe,” she told Vogue, citing the Marvel blockbuster. “I’ve always wanted to be a superhero, and it’s my way of being a superhero.”
Williams wore the suit during her win in the French Open’s first round. “I’ve been wearing pants a lot in general when I play so I can keep the blood circulation going,” she told reporters. “It’s a fun suit, but it’s also functional so I can play without any problems.”
Many on Twitter could not help but see this as a racist attack on Serena Williams and as yet another arbitrary rule designed to police the female body. Reacting on Twitter on Saturday, tennis legend Billie Jean King wrote, “the policing of women’s bodies must end.”
The policing of women’s bodies must end. The “respect” that’s needed is for the exceptional talent @serenawilliams brings to the game. Criticizing what she wears to work is where the true disrespect lies. https://t.co/ioyP9VTCxM— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) August 25, 2018
Despite the fact that Giudicelli decided to capriciously install a dress code in nearly incontestable response to Williams’ catsuit does not seem to bother the tennis God. “When it comes to fashion, you don’t want to be a repeat offender,” she said, according to CNN.
“We already talked, we have a great relationship,” Williams said of Giudicelli in Sunday’s press conference ahead of Monday’s US Open. “We talked yesterday—everything is fine guys,” she laughed.
Maybe it’s fine. Or maybe Serena Williams—a gift to American tennis and American sports at large—is just tired of fighting.