‘Queen’ Ser­ena averts up­set in another fash­ion state­ment

The Daily Telegraph - Sport - - French Open - By Simon Briggs

When Ser­ena Wil­liams plays at the French Open, she seems to gen­er­ate more com­ment through her wardrobe and her gen­der pol­i­tics than she does with her ten­nis. That was the case again yes­ter­day, de­spite her spir­ited come­back to beat Vi­talia Di­atchenko in three sets.

Twelve months ago, Wil­liams made head­lines across the world when she ar­rived on Court Philippe Cha­trier in a black cat­suit, which she said had been in­spired by the fic­tional king­dom of Wakanda. The outfit was later crit­i­cised by Bernard Gi­u­di­celli, pres­i­dent of the French ten­nis fed­er­a­tion, who said he thought it in­ap­pro­pri­ate and would be in­sti­gat­ing a dress code in fu­ture.

So there was plenty of at­ten­tion on Wil­liams yes­ter­day when she came out in a black-and­white pon­cho that she later re­moved to dis­play a crop top and flared skirt. As she ex­plained later: “On the outfit it has words in French, and it says ‘Queen’, it says ‘Cham­pion’, and it says ‘Mom’. Those are things that mean a lot to me and [they are] a re­minder … just to re­mind ev­ery­one that they, you know, can be cham­pi­ons and are queens.”

Wil­liams was asked whether the fourth word on her cloth­ing – Deesse, which trans­lates to “god­dess” – was a heavy weight to carry. “Yeah, it is a lot to carry,” she said re­gally. “But so is be­ing Ser­ena Wil­liams.”

As for the gen­der pol­i­tics, Nike said this week that it would in fu­ture en­sure it kept pay­ing the same fees to its con­tracted fe­male ath­letes for 12 months when they be­come preg­nant, even though they will miss per­for­mance-re­lated tar­gets in that time.

Yes­ter­day Wil­liams – who is the face of a Nike cam­paign en­cour­ag­ing women to “dream cra­zier” – sup­ported the move.

“I’m glad that state­ment was made,” said Wil­liams, who stepped off the tour in Fe­bru­ary 2017 be­cause she was preg­nant with her daugh­ter Alexis Olympia. “It’s about learn­ing from mis­takes. It started with mak­ing a state­ment with me. They want to sup­port women who want to have fam­i­lies. I feel like as the world changes, peo­ple re­alise we have to change our poli­cies.”

Wil­liams said she had been ner­vous and heavy-footed at the start of her match. But af­ter stamp­ing her foot and let­ting out a scream of frus­tra­tion early in the sec­ond set, she raised her level, reel­ing off the fi­nal nine games for a 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 win.

In the other matches on Court Philippe Cha­trier, Rafael Nadal and No­vak Djokovic both swept through in straight sets.

But 13th seed Caro­line Wozniacki, who took to the court with a calf heav­ily strapped, went out to Rus­sia’s Veronika Ku­d­er­me­tova 0-6, 6-3, 6-3.

New look: Ser­ena Wil­liams caused a stir in her outfit

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