For so long, tennis style has consisted of skorts and Tiffany tennis bracelets—classic items, but ones that aren’t particularly inclusive or fashion-minded. But lately, the sport has been getting a major upgrade, from Serena Williams wearing fishnets at the Australian Open to Supreme’s collaboration with sporting goods brand Wilson.
Business of Fashion’s Robert Cordero wrote about the sport’s transition from “predominantly white, country club members” to a wider appeal towards “multi-ethnic, streetwear-savvy millennials.” This month, tennis even joined forces with basketball when Nike released a collection with Boston Celtics point guard Kyrie Irving and Nick Kyrgios, a tennis player famous for his capricious temperament. The collaboration was only second to the brand’s partnership with Serena Williams and Off-White designer Virgil Abloh, who brought the runway to Flushing Meadows, New York.
From tutus to fishnets, Williams has singlehandedly reimagined what tennis style can be—but that reinvention is not without its haters, namely the people at French Tennis Federation who said in an interview with Tennis Magazine that Williams’ catsuit would “no longer be accepted.”
If the sport is to be updated—truly—it looks like the powers that be will have to finally accept that a catsuit isn’t, um, that big of a deal. In 1985, Anne White competed at Wimbledon in a catsuit deemed “unfit for competition,” even though it followed the rules of being both all-white and skin-covering.
With young champions like 17-year-old Amanda Anisimova, 22-year-old Ashleigh Barty, and 21-year-old Naomi Osaka climbing the ranks, the game is becoming a lot more fun to watch. Caitlin Thompson, publisher of Racquet, spoke to BoF about the sea change.
“This class of kids is super varied, both in their [playing] style and their stories, in their tastes, and in their looks… I think when you showcase that, you signal out to everyone else: ‘This welcome you too,’” she said.
Below, some pieces that mix both style and sportsmanship: