While most athletes favor high-performing and comfortable garments for competition, Serena Williams also dresses with political intention. The tennis champion returned to the French Open in Paris Monday in a custom outfit decorated with inspiring words to silence her detractors and remind the world exactly who she is.
"Queen," "Champion," "Mother," and "Goddess" were the words written in English and French all over the black and white Off-White x Nike jacket she wore to warm up at Roland Garros ahead of her match against Russian tennis player Vitalia Diatchenko. Williams won, in case you were wondering, but we're here to discuss this 'fit:
For the actual match, Serena peeled off the lightweight jacket to reveal the rest of the ensemble: a sports bra and skort in the same black and white pattern as the jacket. She topped it off with a pair of Nike sneakers.
Williams first previewed the outfit on social media, in black and white photos of her dressed in the same jacket and sports bra with a floor-length skirt. "Let the Roland Garros begin," she wrote. "Here is my French Open look designed by @virgilabloh and @nike."
Last year, Williams made headlines for playing the French Open in a black catsuit she called her "Wakanda-inspired" suit and dedicated to "all the moms out there who had a tough recovery from pregnancy.” The French Tennis Federation eventually banned Williams's style of catsuit, citing "respect [for] the game and the place"—and completely missing its importance. Serena wore the compression catsuit to help her manage her blood clots, a life-threatening issue she's been dealing with for years.
"I had a lot of problems with my blood clots, and, God, I don’t know how many I have had in the past 12 months. So it is definitely a little functionality to it,” Williams explained to The Guardian. “I have been wearing pants in general a lot when I play, so I can keep the blood circulation going. It’s a fun suit but it’s also functional, so I can be able to play without any problems.”
Nerisha Penrose Assistant Editor Nerisha is the assistant editor at ELLE.com, covering all things beauty and fashion.