Serena “Supermum” Williams made a winning return to the court in Paris, wearing a lycra bodysuit that she admitted had been inspired by a Marvel movie.
Williams is the only woman in the draw who features in her own HBO documentary series, Being Serena, and yesterday she more than justified her billing.
It wasn’t just her tennis – which was just about good enough to drag her over the line against world No. 70 Kristyna Pliskova – but the styling and an entertaining press conference in which she addressed everything from a new mother’s conflicting pressures to drinking games at the royal wedding.
In the end, her daring fashion statement ended up causing more comment than anything else. “Catsuit anyone?” she wrote on her Twitter page. “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!!”
The black, shiny, skin-tight outfit looked like a superhero uniform and recalled the controversy that surrounded Anne White’s Wimbledon catsuit in 1985. “I call it like my Wakanda-inspired cat suit,” Williams said, in a reference to the blockbuster movie Black Panther. Yet this was not a purely sartorial decision, as she revealed that the compression element of the garment is important for her circulation.
Tennis insiders had previously noted that, in every photograph taken since Williams had started training again, she was wearing tight leggings. Some had privately speculated that she might be covering up knee problems, but Williams exploded this theory last night.
“I had a lot of problems with my blood clots,” she said. “God, I don’t know how many I have had in the past 12 months. So there is definitely a little functionality to it. I have been wearing pants in general a lot when I play so I can keep the blood circulation going. It’s a fun suit, but it’s also functional so I can be able to play without any problems.”
It wasn’t the quality of Williams’s tennis that mattered yesterday, more the fact that she is back in the mix, almost a year-and-a-half after she claimed the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant.
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