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Nike, King and Others Blast French Open Ban on Serena Catsuit

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EJ Stewart
EJ Stewart
Elijah Stewart is an associate producer for NY1, Founder & Host on Nu Generation Media & Podcast Network and Sports Editor of TheHub.News

Nike joins the ever-growing collective that is clapping back at the French Open for banning an all-black catsuit Serena Williams wore during this year’s event.

The apparel company announced its support for Williams, who is signed to Nike, in a tweet saying “you can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers.”

The response comes as the tournament seeks to enforce a dress code for next year’s event. Many fans expressed outrage when French Tennis Federation President Bernard Giudicelli singled out Williams’ Black Panther-inspired gear in an interview with Tennis Magazine.

“It will no longer be accepted,” Giudicelli said about the ensemble. “One must respect the game and respect the place.”

Tennis Legend Billie Jean King called out the French Open for its decision. In a tweet, King says in part “the policing of women’s bodies must end.” Others chimed in as well. Author Roxane Gay said in a twitter post the decision was “blatantly disrespectful.” ESPN anchor Linda Cohn called the move “embarrassing.

Williams’ bodysuit was a fan favorite during this year’s tournament. Supporters blew up social media with posts commenting on the fashion statement. In fact, the official Twitter account for Roland-Garros posted several pictures of Williams in the suit and quoted her talking about it in a May tweet.

“I feel like a Warrior in it, like a warrior Princess or a Queen from Wakanda maybe,” Williams said after a first round win over Kristyna Pliskova. “I’m always living in a fantasy world, I’ve always wanted to be a superhero and it’s kind of my way of being a superhero.”

Williams said the outfit was designed before Marvel’s powerhouse “Black Panther” film hit theaters. It was built to prevent blood clots, a condition that she says caused near-death complications during her pregnancy with her daughter Alexis. She wore the attire during her first Grand Slam match since maternity leave. Williams said the suit was dedicated to all of the mothers who’ve had to bounce back from difficult pregnancies.

Giudicelli didn’t elaborate on what rules will be imposed as part of the dress code, but says it will be less strict than all-white guidelines at Wimbledon. Giudicelli says the rules will “impose certain limits.”

Williams said she is “fine” and will be explaining to officials that the suit is worn for health reasons. She returns to action Monday at the U.S. Open.

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