It used to be that sister Serena got all the attention for her outfits. And deservedly so. She’s always been a tad more daring when it comes to her on-court attire (remember the more-than-revealing Puma catsuit of 2002, or the biker-chick-in-zip-up-boots look of 2004?), a bit less conservative than her older sibling. But it’s Venus Williams who’s the fashion focus in Paris, a city known for its runway revelations.
First it was the yellow-and-skin-tone ensemble in Melbourne. Then it was the sassy red-with-black-trim getup she wore in Miami. Now she’s sporting a black-and-red lace number that might just fit in up the Seine in Paris’ red-light district of Pigalle, at the Moulin Rouge.
“I guess lace has never been done before in tennis, and I’ve been wanting to do it for a long time,” said Williams, who oversees her own EleVen clothing line.
Venus is calling her 2010 look “illusion.” The idea here is that you think you’re seeing more than you really are.
“A lot of it has been about the illusion of bareness,” said Williams, who moved into the French Open’s third round with a 6-2, 6-4 win over Spain’s Arantxa Parra Santonja. “I try to represent what I think my personality is on the court. That’s the first part of it. The second part is sometimes you just dream it up. Sometimes you can see a dress and say, ‘Hey, I really like those slits, so let me put that in my tennis dress.’ Or ‘I’m dying to do lace. How can we do that on the court and make it work?’”
When the Floridian serves, her dress tends to fly up a little, revealing her backside, which caused one male fan to comment, “It’s good for my imagination.”
“That was never the objective,” Venus claimed. “The design has nothing to do with the rear. It just so happens that I have a very well developed one. It’s all genetic. If you look at my mom and dad, you’ll see the same thing happening. If you look at my sister, you’ll see the same thing. But it’s really about the illusion…What’s the point of wearing lace when there’s just black under. The illusion of just having bare skin is definitely for me a lot more beautiful.”
And for those who feel she’s pushing the fashion envelope too far?
“It’s gone on to a whole other plane that I never was designing for,” she said. “I designed it for me. So for me it’s how do I envision myself and what do I want to wear and what do I want to look like? As far as how I might expect people to respond is, more than anything, that it’s just different and unique. Even in my game, style, attitude, personality, the way I approach my life is different and unique, so I feel my fashion style is also the same.”