I love tennis. I been playing for about five years. I follow it religiously and watch it whenever I can. I don't play as often as I would like to but I'm getting there. I think tennis is one of those sports that has come a long way. It used to be a play for the rich, elitist, white socialites while blacks were not even allow to hit a ball, but in deteriorated courts located in ghettos or run-down parks. The pigmentation of skin was unfortunately a factor whether someone was eligible to play competitive professional tennis, but thanks to the likes of Arthur Ashe and Althea Gibson players today such as James Blake and the Williams sisters can compete in the ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) and WTA (Women Tennis Association) respectively.
It can be puzzling trying to understand the amount of traveling these athletes endure due to the hectic schedule of tournaments played around the globe. From Melbourne to Miami, and Germany to Qatar. I think I once heard that tennis professional spend most of their career on a plane than on land. Right at this moment, Roland Garros (French Open), one of the four Grand Slams is unfolding in Paris. A tournament that has been a struggle to most American players since their game does not naturally nor smoothly transcend from hard courts to clay courts. Also the fact that they are not accustomed to playing on a clay court, in comparison to their South American and European competitors can be a factor for this drought of 8 years that an American has won the title (Serena Williams back in 2002)
I'd like to watch a few players, including: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, James Blake, Feliciano Lopez, and Fernando Verdasco, but the ones that I been a huge fan of are Venus and Serena Williams. They've have set new standards for women's tennis on and off the court. Their aggressive game and sense of fashion are just a few of the things that have gained them my admiration. It's thrilling yet inspiring to watch these two ladies from Compton who started playing in courts fitted more for a battle than a regular tennis practice session while a shooting was unfolding just feet away from where they were practicing, competing in the biggest tennis stages in the world, leaving their hearts and souls on the court with every breath and grunt, and it's even more exciting when they're are competing against each other. But in this year's Roland Garros, which started on May 23, the talk has been not on the depredatory style of play of Venus or Serena but of what Venus was wearing on the court.
On Sunday 23, after Venus Williams defeated the Swiss player Patty Schnyder on her 1st round match, the buzz of the tournament was about what she was wearing (see above) than the fact that she was seeded #2 and was seemingly back in clay-court-form, in such condition to reach the finals and even take the tittle for the first time (unfortunately Venus was defeated by Russian player Nadia Petrova on the 4th round).
Venus chose a non-traditional dress for this occasion that in fact she designed for her Eleven line. It was a black lace bustier-top dress with a flirty skirt and red hot pipping that is perhaps reminiscent of a can-can chorus line in the 19th century. Now that I look at the dress in close-up I see the details I missed when I initially saw the dress. The flowers or roses motif the dress exhibits it's actually a lovely touch. But what she wore underneath even created a much bigger media ruckus. In press interviews, when asked about her ensemble she was wearing on court, Venus confidently responded she wanted to create the illusion of bareness, which has been her "motif this year". That "illusion" translated into flesh-colored hot pants, or undershorts, whatever you call them. As she's on the motion of serving, the flimsy skirt lifts with the help of the wind and reveals a deceiving image of "bareness" from behind (see below). It appears as if she's not wearing any underpants but if you look closely, the woman is actually wearing an almost blending colored undershorts. Venus acknowledges the fact that the underpants highlights her derriere, which she describes as "very well developed" as most guys would agree.
There is no need to expand my penchant for this dress. I think it has a hip, young and sexy attitude that only Venus can do them justice. And that body!!!! When I saw Venus playing on TV, it brought back nostalgic memories from the 2008 Fall/Winter Prada show, where Miuccia used laced in the most unsexy way, but it was still a beautiful collection. And one of the best of the entire season. It's clear that Venus has a passion for fashion (she has a fashion design degree from Fort Lauderdale Art Institute in Florida). I remember she did a collaboration with Diane Von Furstenberg and Reebok back when she was being sponsored by them. And she attends shows during New York fashion week with Andre Leon Talley conveniently while she's in NYC for the US Open. So I can assume she knows her stuff. The choice to don this particular design for this particular tournament is a smart one. Paris, capital of fashion, seems to be a befitting occasion for this fashion-forward ensemble. Perhaps this is the most riske outfit I seem Venus wear. In an interview she mentioned that lace was never done for tennis, so she wanted to be the first and made it happen. Kudos to that.
What bothers me a bit is the fact that tennis commentators, especially the Americans ones, with no fashion knowledge come to criticize Venus for her fabulous design and go to such heights as to call it "inappropriate". The nerves some folks have to call something "inappropriate" when yourself is wearing an ill-fitting suit with the wrong tie. I don't want to hear anything fashion related from any tennis commentator, probably from Bud Collins (goggle him), but that's not what they been hired for, they were hired for their tennis wisdom or tennis experience. But then again, I guess people have their own opinions about style and at times I tend to disagree and get irritated. What's obvious and what these people are completely oblivious of is that fact that underwear as outwear, or lingerie-inspired clothing was one of the biggest trends for this season. It was present on the Dior, Pada and Dolce & Gabbana collections and many others that don't come to mind at this time. I don't expect tennis commentators to know that, thus they should stop brining up the subject and focus more on the tactics Mr. Federer is using to beat his opponents and how "Rafa" Nadal is not coming back as the defending champ after 4 years.
Regardless, I still enjoy that fact that fashion still stimulates people and brings a reaction out of them. This is a great example on how an idea is well executed and brought to life and got people talking and received much worldwide attention which was probably Venus' initial intentions. I admire people who take risks and run with it and defend their stance on it. I love creativity and the results of it. Fashion is an ambiguous subject and it means different things to different people, and I come to realize that at times we don't see eye-to-eye. I guess that's what makes the world go around.
I'm still excited to what she's going to wear at Wimbledon in just a few weeks. I hope she sticks with the lace and gives the people another reason to talk about. Oh yeah! In Serena news, she went with a more traditional with a simpler silhouette with a punch of aqua and and neon green. I was going to post pictures of her outfit, but it interfere with the subject of this post. However, I still lover her.