Serena Williams reflects on wearing controversial catsuit to 2018 French Open: 'People were mad about it'

·3 min read

Serena Williams is standing by her iconic catsuit moment.

The incomparable athlete took a trip down memory lane for Vogue's Life in Looks series, breaking down 22 of her most notable looks.

While she is no novice to the world of high fashion — and holds a particular keenness for Versace — some of the tennis stars' most lionized outfits were worn on the very courts where she changed the game of tennis forever.

In 2018, less than a year after giving birth to her daughter, Olympia, Serena Williams wore a custom black Nike catsuit to that year's French Open.

"This is my first Grand Slam after having Olympia, and I was like, 'I worked so hard at those braids I'm going to keep them in,' so I kept them in and I've worn catsuits but I've never worn like a long catsuit," Williams said of the all-in-one ensemble.

The skin-hugging one-piece was met with admiration from fans who loved the super-sleek look, a switch up from the traditional sports skirts and tops associated with tennis.

The French Tennis Federation was not as enthralled.

Following the tournament, FTF president Bernard Giudicelli told Tennis magazine that the federation would introduce a "dress code" because "sometimes we've gone too far," he said, insinuating William's jumpsuit disrespected the game of tennis.

"The outfit of Serena this year, for example, will no longer be accepted. You have to respect the game and the place. Everyone wants to enjoy the showcase," he said.

Fans opposed the federation's opinion — as did Nike, the mastermind behind the sheathlike outfit, which tweeted support of Serena's prowess, regardless of clothing.

While she did say the look made her feel like a "warrior princess," it served a functional purpose as well.

"I had to wear it because it was for compression issues with my blood. So I needed to have like full comprehension going on cause at this time I think Olympia was six months," Serena said.

The mom of one has been vocal about the complications she faced during and after her delivery, including life-threatening blood clots, as she described in a self-penned article for Elle in April.

But functionality aside, Williams didn't understand the backlash surrounding her attire.

"This was really cool where I wore like this one body piece and people were mad about it. I couldn't believe it. They were like 'you shouldn't wear that,' well not people, the French Open was kind of upset about it, and I was like 'why not?" she said in the new video.

Williams said she explained to the federation that the jumpsuit was a medical necessity, and that it did, albeit reluctantly, understand her reasoning.

"I told them 'no, no, no, you don't understand. This is for my health I kind of need to wear that and they understood when I said that. They weren't very happy about it but they understood," she said.

It doesn't seem like Serena or the federation will have to worry about any wardrobe spats for the foreseeable future, as the sports giant announced her plans to retire on Tuesday in an issue of Vogue.

"I'm here to tell you that I'm evolving away from tennis, toward other things that are important to me," she wrote for the magazine.

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