Why Twitter Is Unhappy That Serena Williams’ Catsuit Got Banned From The French Open

"You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers."

Earlier this year, tennis superstar Serena Williams made headlines when she wore a black Nike catsuit to the French Open. Williams explained that the suit made her feel "like a warrior princess" or a "queen from Wakanda" — a Black Panther reference — and said it could inspire other mothers to believe in themselves. 

"I always wanted to be a superhero, and it's kind of my way of being a superhero," she said. "I feel like a superhero when I wear it."

"It feels like this suit represents all the women that have been through a lot mentally, physically, with their body to come back and have confidence and to believe in themselves," she added, according to People. Williams herself faced dangerous blood clots after giving birth to her daughter, Alexis. The catsuit was also designed to help with blood circulation. 

Despite that, the Associated Press reports that the French Tennis Federation has banned the catsuit, with President Bernard Giudicelli saying the tournament is introducing a new dress code in order to regulate players' uniforms because "I think that sometimes we've gone too far."

"'It will no longer be accepted. One must respect the game and the place,'" Giudicelli added. 

Following the news, people have expressed their disappointment and disapproval of the new policy. Staceyann Chin, author of the memoir The Other Side of Paradise, for example, wrote an essay for espnW entitled "Serena Williams Should Be Able to Wear Whatever She Wants." In it, Chin writes:

"If ever there was a woman who had the right to wear a superwoman catsuit while she is at work, it would be Serena Williams ... And the French Tennis Federation president, Bernard Giudicelli, should act like he knows it. His polite phrasing of the age-old, one-two philosophical punch of racism and sexism was delivered under the disguise of new dress codes. These rehashed rules from the past are only the dying gasps of a fading era. These changes that Giudicelli summarizes as having "gone too far" are what actual inclusion looks like. Including other cultures means including other ideas about identity and culture."

Later, Chin reiterates that Williams's "superwoman abilities" and character have been qualities for women to look up to, including little Black girls who could now imagine themselves as tennis champions, too. 

Others have taken to social media to share their thoughts, including Nike, tennis player Andy Roddick, and #OscarsSoWhite creator April Reign.

Williams herself made the following comments in response to the ban:

"I think that, obviously, the Grand Slams have a right to do what they want to do," she told reporters before the Arthur Ashe Kids' Day event at the US Open, Today reports

"I feel like if and when, or if they know that some things are for health reasons, then there's no way that they wouldn't be OK with it," Williams said of the French Open dress code to come. "So I think it's fine. The president of the French Federation, he's been really amazing. He's been so easy to talk to. My whole team is basically French, so, yeah, we have a wonderful relationship."

While the organization may not have initially known or appreciated the reasons why Williams wore the catsuit, this incident speaks to sexism and shaming women in sports sometimes face because of what they wear. Here's to hoping more people become aware of the issue, and recognize that women should be free to wear what makes them comfortable and allows them to perform on the court. 

Cover photo bDana Gardner / Shutterstock.com 


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