23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams’ on-court fashion choices have drawn attention for much of her career. But that did not deter her from making a bold statement yet again.
“Champion,” ″queen,” ″goddess” and “mother.” Those were the words, in French, printed on a black-and-white warm-up jacket that Serena Williams wore for her opening match at Roland Garros on Monday.
“Those are things that mean a lot to me and reminders for me and for everyone that wants to wear it,” Williams said. “Just remind everyone that they can be champions and are queens. So I love that about it," she added.
“It is a lot to carry, but so is being Serena Williams,” said Williams, who made her return to Grand Slam competition in Paris a year ago after missing five majors because of the birth of her first child.
Williams took off the jacket before the match and played in a matching two-piece outfit, which was a collaboration between Off White’s Virgil Abloh and Nike.
Last year, French Tennis Federation President Bernard Giudicelli said the black catsuit with clot-preventing compression tights that Williams wore during the 2018 French Open wouldn’t be accepted again at the tournament.
She used the catsuit as a form of inspiration for other moms, writing on Instagram, "Catsuit anyone? For all the moms out there who had a tough recovery from pregnancy—here you go. If I can do it, so can you. Love you all!!"
She made her return to Grand Slam competition in Paris a year ago after missing five majors because of the birth of her first child. Williams pulled out before the fourth round because of an injured chest muscle, then was the runner-up at both Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
Up against Vitalia Diatchenko, Serena looked uncharacteristically out of sorts, surrendering the first set 6-2. At the end, she let out her frustration, her cry seemingly reminding herself, the Paris crowd and anyone else who was watching of who she is - mother, champion, queen, goddess - all of it. And simple as that, Williams righted herself: She won 11 of the next 13 points, and 12 of 13 games the rest of the way, to come back for a disappointing-to-dominant 2-6, 6-1, 6-0 victory against the 83rd-ranked Russian.
If Williams manages to clinch her 24th Grand Slam title, she will equal Margaret Court's all-time record of 24 Grand Slam titles.
(With inputs from AP)