Yesterday, Serena Williams returned to the French Open, beating Russia’s Vitalia Diatchenko in the first round while wearing a custom Virgil Abloh Nike design — a design that not only looked sharp but sent a very clear middle-finger-shaped message.
Williams’ Abloh-designed black and white two-piece ’fit with matching cape was covered in words synonymous with empowerment, “Mother,” “Champion,” “Queen,” “Goddess,” translated into French. While these words hold weight on their own, they evoke some of the words Williams used to described how she felt wearing a catsuit at last year’s tournament, when she said she felt like a “warrior princess” and a “queen from Wakanda.”
Williams said the catsuit offered compression to help combat the blood clots she developed after the birth of her daughter Alexis. However, French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli deemed the outfit “disrespectful” to the game and the tournament’s dress code, banning the style — a move decried as sexist and archaic by many.
This 2019 ’fit, then, can essentially be read as a big eye-roll in Giudicelli’s direction.
Talking to the Tennis Channel after her first-round win, Williams explained the new look in more detail. “Virgil Abloh designed it and so I was really excited because he’s the hottest designer right now and he’s amazing,” she said.
“It’s the second time we’ve worked together. And it has words on it in French. It talks about me being a mom and me being a queen, as all women are. A champion. It’s positive reinforcement for me, and I kind of love that.”