Just days after a tennis boss criticised Serena Williams for wearing a lifesaving body compression catsuit on court, the former World No. 1 made her US Open comeback in a custom one-shouldered tutu dress.
The black dress was a collaboration between Off-White and Louis Vuitton menswear designer Virgil Abloh and Nike. It’s part of Abloh’s new Off-White x Nike collection inspired by Williams, which is aptly called “QUEEN.”
The tutu helped Williams win her first match of the tournament, beating Poland’s Magda Linette 6-4, 6-0 at Arthur Asher Stadium in New York City.
Williams gave birth to her daughter Olympia during last year’s US Open.
“With Serena, we have one of our generation’s most powerful, inspiring athletes as the muse, I was trying to embody her spirit and bring something compelling and fresh to tennis,” Abloh said in a statement from the brand.
“Willing to design dresses for her for life,” Abloh said on Instagram.
Last week, President of the French Tennis Federation Bernard Giudicelli said the famous “Black Panther” catsuit Williams wore during the French Open earlier this year would be banned from now on.
“I believe we have sometimes gone too far. Serena’s outfit this year, for example, would no longer be accepted. You have to respect the game and the place,” Mr Giudicelli said.
Williams wore the full length, skin tight compression garment to prevent her body from experiencing blood clots while playing.
She has previously revealed doctors found a haematoma — a swelling of clotted blood outside of a vessel — in her body following the birth of her daughter.
While Williams herself said she was not offended by Mr Giudicelli’s comments, women on social media were angered by a man dictating what a woman could wear on court.
“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 okay with it. So I think it’s fine,” Williams said, adding that when it comes to fashion “you don’t want to be a repeat offender.”
“Serena Williams was told she wasn’t allowed to wear her Black Panther catsuit back to the French Open because she had to ‘respect the game’. So she showed up in a tutu,” one person wrote on Twitter.
“You can’t wear a catsuit to play? OK, I’ll go with a tutu and fishnets then. @serenawilliams is the role model even big girls needed. Williams is unflappable, even in a tutu,” another wrote.
Another said: “They didn’t let Serena Williams wear her catsuit. She came out in a tutu. Yes Queen.”
Many celebrities turned out to watch Williams play on Monday, they include Vogue editor-in-chief Anna Wintour, former boxer Mike Tyson, actors Hugh Jackman and wife Deborra-lee Furness.