Women are boldly breaking from tradition and setting their own standards for appropriate attire on the court, the field, the track and in the pool. Undoubtedly, the boldest fashions in women’s sport show up on the tennis court. Tennis players partake in one of the most strenuous circuits in professional sport. So, who can blame them for wanting to keep things interesting on the court?
Tennis’ Williams sisters have been at the forefront of on-court flamboyancy for over ten years. They have been seen sporting everything from the tightest and most colorful jumpsuits to the most barely-there offerings of tennis shorts and dresses. The Williams sisters have become so known for their fashions that fashion blogs and print publications, including the highly regarded Harper’s Bazaar (HB) have highlighted their fashion fare and documented some of their playful banter about which sister is the more fashionable of two.
“I’m sure Serena would say I would win the fashion match,” Venus Williams told HB on a fashion shoot where the two, clad in fancy dresses and high heels, strut their stuff on a tennis court.
“Venus is so wrong. I mean, I’d win. Come on!” Serena Williams replied jokingly to her sister’s light-hearted jab.
No matter which of the two you believe has more style, they are both a force to be reckoned with in terms of their on-court fashion choices. After a health-scare related hiatus last year, Serena Williams tweeted a picture of her return to the practice courts and in it, she was wearing a neon pink bodysuit. Though the outfit never saw the light of center court in a real match, the picture set the blogosphere ablaze. Just months earlier, older sister Venus Williams had many people recoiling in a ‘is she or isn’t she’ moment by donning a lacy black ensemble with a surprise twist—flesh coloured compression shorts! Her daring choice left even the most seasoned of sports commentators with the difficult task of picking their jaws up from off the floor.
As daring as their choices have been through the years, the Williams sisters have not been alone in their unconventional expressions of style on the court. In fact, Bethanie Mattek-Sands has had her fair share of fascinating fashionable moments. Wearing everything from a Jerseylicious or Jesey Shore appropriate cheetah print two-piece short outfit with matching hat to bright colored shorts and matching tube socks, Mattek-Sands has also garnered a lot of press for her sportswear. She has been called the Lady Gaga of tennis. In a recent fashion video blog by lovetennisblog.com, she provided the perfect descriptor of her on-court fashion.
“I wore a cowboy hat to the U.S. Open and I actually got fined so I definitely toe the line most of the time. I take risks [with fashion on the court],” Mattek-Sands told Alex Noble, designer for Lady Gaga.
Mattek-Sands and the Williams sisters are the trendsetters in the world of tennis, but Australian indigenous sports icon Cathy Williams has certainly not exhausted her bag of magic tricks on the track. Williams was celebrated at the 2000 Sydney Olympics for lighting the cauldron at the opening ceremony. Yet, she shocked the crowd as she made her way to the starting blocks and eventually secured the 400m track gold medal in a deep green head to toe bodysuit. Track and field is largely an individual sport. Just as individuals differ, so too does their on-track wear. A personal style choice, Williams’ look did not catch on with other track and field athletes. Yet, she was not the first to take a less mundane approach to dressing for the big race. In fact, the late Florence Griffith-Joyner may be credited with influencing many of the daring outfits seen on the sportswomen of today.
When it comes to all things fashion-related at this year’s Olympic games, things are changing. In a bid to be more culturally sensitive, the mandatory length of attire is being relaxed by the Olympic committee. As this change will provide athletes with more latitude in choosing sportswear, fans should anticipate more free-wielding expressions of style.
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