Tennis queens’ style: Centre court or nightclub wear?
BACK in the day, sportswear particularly that of tennis was a simple affair-usually a pair of shorts and a T-shirt worn with sneakers. And the colour was mostly white. Now tennis wear has evolved to such a level that observers are wondering if a dress code for the game has become necessary. Their stance is understandable considering the type of ‘outfits’ worn by some of the major female players in recent times. Many of the top female players can often been seen on court in skimpy or revealing outfits, in a kaleidoscope of colours and garish designs that at times look more like nightclub than tennis gear.
A few top professional players are fuelling this trend in raunchy outfits on court. And top in the league of provocative court dressers are the dynamic duo-Serena and Venus Williams. In fact, since these hard-hitting sisters hit the courts and tennis circuits in the 90s, courtside fashion has been taken to a level never seen before in the over 100 year history of the game. It’s like just playing tennis is no longer enough. High fashion, entertainment and lots of drama have
been added to the game. Between them, they’ve turned centre court into a fashion runway, bringing some bling bling factor to it. While all these have helped to ‘spice up’ the somewhat sedate sport, the racy court style has raised a few questions as well as controversy. Many have wondered if the sisters have gone too far in their sexy ‘sports’ dressing and its time to tone down the outfits worn on court.
Courtside nightgown wearers
Indeed, some of the outfits look like anything but sportswear. They seem like a cross between evening wear (for a cocktail party for instance) and something that the average call girl in town will don in order to display all her ‘assets’ before hitting the streets for the day’s ‘business.’ An example is the black negligee-inspired dress (pictured) that Venus wore to the French Open last year. She looked underdressed, like a woman who, after wearing her undies forgot to put on her clothes before leaving home. More was to come. The spectators, already surprised at the player’s boldness for choosing such a bedroom look for the court, were simply ‘dazed’ by her weird underwear- a flesh-coloured design that gave her a nude look, prompting the question among onlookers: “Is she naked?”. Amid whistles, catcalls and waves of disapproval from spectators mostly used to more traditional tennis gear, an unfazed Venus defended the controversial outfit which she described as being all ‘about illusion.’
She remains unperturbed by cries that her outfits are becoming too sexy for the sport, continuing with her sister Serena to push the tennis fashion envelope to new style heights. For instance, last month, Serena made a comeback to the court after a series of injuries and ailments in an outfit that was sure to grab attention- a bright-pink body-hugging catsuit. In that outfit she looked more like catwoman Patience (a namesake please) in the movie Catwoman played by sultry Hollywood actress Halle Berry than a professional tennis player with many grand slams under her belt. But the Williams’ sisters aren’t the only ones who have set tongues wagging with their style. Another top player, Maria Sharapova looked ready for a night on the town in the blue dress worn under a see-through ‘nightie’ she wore at the Australian Open in January.
Many have considered the clothes at best distracting and at worse, tacky, tasteless and unbecoming of an elitist and serious sport like tennis. Then there’s the role model aspect, with many young girls looking up to them. As a spectator put it succinctly: “She (Venus) is an ambassador of black women to the world, whether she likes it or not. There’s a way to grab attention without letting your belly and booty hang out.” Indeed, many observers are of the view that these girls, being so talented don’t need to wear such outlandish outfits on court to attract attention. Other tennis lovers believe a return to the time when all-white outfits in classy designs was the norm among players, is long overdue.