US tennis great Serena Williams, who has confidently opened her campaign for a 24th Grand Slam in Melbourne, sent fans into a frenzy with a colorful new outfit which she wore in the opening match of the tournament on Monday.
The 39-year-old, who is eyeing her eighth Australian Open trophy, appeared on court wearing a Nike-designed catsuit – met with mixed reactions on social media.
While some fans admired Williams’ look, others criticized her fashion choice for the season-opening major.
Some drew parallels between the suit and the style worn by US sprinting legend Florence Griffith Joyner.
This is awful it looks horrible on her. I like Serena but in general her sartorial taste is the opposite of her tennis skills. Doesn’t she look in the mirror, don’t her assistants tell her the truth?
— Laura Riebman (@raleighroo972) February 8, 2021
The eye-catching style was praised by Williams’ huge army of fans, who said she looked “awesome” and “gorgeous.”
“Serena and Venus revolutionised fashion on tennis court and are fearless and fierce. I love it,” wrote one.
She always looks amazing… love the one legged catsuit,” another said.
Awsome. Serena and Venus revolutionised fashion on tennis court and fearless and fierce. I love it.
— Mira (@fifie01) February 8, 2021
“Stunning! Serena always comes out with something unexpected and this outfit is unique! Be weird be special,” another comment read.
Not all tennis lovers were inspired by Williams’ outfit design, though, including critics who claimed it didn’t suit her and distracted from the game itself.
“I don’t like that catsuit at all, sorry. Distracting and just ugly,” one wrote.
Stunning! Serena always comes out with something unexpected and this outfit is UNIQUE! Be weird be special.
— KA.a (@kaaljerm) February 8, 2021
I don’t like that catsuit at all, sorry. Distracting and just ugly
— Mariam (@SonnylovesRafa) February 8, 2021
“What kind of outfit is this for God’s sake. Tennis is not a distractive but disciplined plain sport. No wonder 24 is hard for her. Too much distractions from the main ball,” another user commented.
Fans noticed that two years ago a similar outfit worn by Williams had been banned by the French Open authorities after they found it to be inappropriate for the tournament.
“People that don’t play or know Tennis are talking,” said one. “Obviously if you know… why did Roland Garros ban her catsuit? They also are looking at her body.”
What kind of outfit is this for God’s sake. Tennis is not a distractive but disciplined plain sport. No wonder 24 is hard for her. Too much distractions from the main ball.
— Ayo Deji (@ayoadegbites) February 8, 2021
She always looks amazing..love the one legged catsuit
— kelly burleson (@aandtsmom) February 8, 2021
Another said: “This is awful – it looks horrible on her. I like Serena but in general her sartorial taste is the opposite of her tennis skills.
“Doesn’t she look in the mirror. Don’t her assistants tell her the truth?”
Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki and rapper Busta Rhymes were among those to praise the outfit in response to Williams posting a photo of it on Instagram, where she has almost 13 million followers.
My god… please explain her what means the word “style”🤦♀️
— Мария Микерова (@MikerovaMaria) February 8, 2021
Her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, was also impressed, writing on the platform: “Strong outfit. Even stronger performance. Serena looked great, didn’t she?”
The official Australian Open account responded by calling Williams “one of a kind”.
Williams is through to the second round of the tournament after a crushing 6-1, 6-1 victory against Germany’s Laura Siegemund.