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.
— Nike (@Nike) August 25, 2018
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.”
The policing of women’s bodies must end. The “respect” that’s needed is for the exceptional talent @serenawilliams brings to the game. Criticizing what she wears to work is where the true disrespect lies. https://t.co/ioyP9VTCxM
— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) August 25, 2018
What incentive would Serena Williams, GOAT, have at this point in her career to play the French Open when the tournament is being blatantly disrespectful to her?
— roxane gay (@rgay) August 24, 2018
Just ridiculous. Serena has done nothing BUT respect the game. Serena Williams is almost always singled out in tennis. This comes down to what they feel is “acceptable” on a tennis court. It’s not her job to make you feel comfortable.
Also, the suit helps her combat blood clots. https://t.co/gR2XqJLi3j
— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) August 24, 2018
You got to be kidding me. @serenawilliams is just the greatest woman tennis player in history, saved American tennis, and you’re changing the rules to ban her fashion choice. Embarrassing decision French Open officials! https://t.co/9sGObuuKbo
— Linda Cohn (@lindacohn) August 24, 2018
— Elizabeth Banks (@ElizabethBanks) August 24, 2018
Serena is wearing this attire for medical reasons. Literally. But we all know this is not about the suit. It’s about controlling the Black woman who has dominated this sport. And part of me wants her to pull out of the Open. For medical reasons. And to make a point. https://t.co/ADLJi29Kuo
— April (@ReignOfApril) August 24, 2018
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 kind of, (a) queen from Wakanda.
I’m always living in a fantasy world. I always wanted to be a superhero, and it’s kind of my way of being a superhero.
I feel like a superhero when I wear it.”
— Roland-Garros (@rolandgarros) May 29, 2018
“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.