Tennis icon and gender equality advocate Billie Jean King has called out officials from the French Open after their decision to ban Serena Williams’s “catsuit.”
The new ruling was a reaction to Williams wearing a full body compression suit during the French Open. According to Williams the suit was designed to prevent blood clots which the tennis star suffered from after giving birth last year. During the Open, Williams said the Nike designed outfit made her feel like a “warrior princess.”
In an interview with Tennis Magazine, French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli said the tournament was adding the new dress code because “I think that sometimes we’ve gone too far,” later adding “One must respect the game and the place.”
But as far as King and others are concerned it was the French Open that had gone too far.
The policing of women’s bodies must end. The “respect” that’s needed is for the exceptional talent @serenawilliams brings to the game. Criticizing what she wears to work is where the true disrespect lies. https://t.co/ioyP9VTCxM— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) August 25, 2018
In a tweet posted on Saturday, King called out the Open saying, “The policing of women’s bodies must end. The ‘respect’ that’s needed is for the exceptional talent Serena Williams brings to the game. Criticizing what she wears to work is where the true disrespect lies.”
Williams, however, seemed nonchalant about the ruling as she spoke during a press conference before the U.S. Open.
“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 okay with it. So I think it’s fine. When it comes to fashion, you don’t want to be a repeat offender.”
King wasn’t the only one troubled by the French Open’s ruling though.
This is so dumb and shortsighted it hurts. Sometimes it’d be nice if the sport got out of its own way. https://t.co/As85ymSiFK— andyroddick (@andyroddick) August 25, 2018
And many questioned the motives behind the ban.
Having had multiple pulmonary embolisms, Serena Williams is not allowed to use a specially designed black catsuit that helps prevents blood clots from developing in the legs. Because the French Open doesn’t like how it looks. That’s racist, sexist, and dangerous.— Eugene Gu, MD (@eugenegu) August 24, 2018
To me, they are specifically doing everything they can to prevent @serenawilliams from competing again. And this is wrong.— Sabaah Jauhar-Rizvi (@AustenLied) August 25, 2018
Her attire is literally for a medical purpose. They routinely find ways to single out the black woman who is dominating this sport. No one would care if it was Sharapova who wore a body suit.— NamaSLAY??♀️??♀️ (@BlkCarmenSDiego) August 25, 2018
Williams handled the ban like a champion, showing up to the U.S. Open in a tutu designed by Louis Vuitton.
French Tennis Federation Pres said last week Serena Williams' "Black Panther" catsuit wouldn't be allowed back at French Open.— Maggie Jordan: (@MaggieJordanACN) August 28, 2018
Sooo, she wore a custom-designed tutu by Louis Vuitton designer Virgil Abloh, NikeCourt Flare trainers and fishnet compression tights. (via Instagram) pic.twitter.com/ja1LXc68ul
My goodness, #SerenaWilliams? is such a force of energy, joy, and beautiful badassery.— Angie_playtime_is_over??⚖️ (@IamAngieKeller) August 28, 2018
Can’t wear a catsuit? Fine, how about a tutu? Girly enough for you, French Open?
Could not love this woman more.https://t.co/n5JZudQ64e pic.twitter.com/Iz0O7Jqomj
French Open - you can’t wear your catsuit bc we are out dated sexist morons— Kaileen Arsenault (@kaigirl814) August 28, 2018
Serena Williams - do you like apples?
French Open - whaaat?
Serena - shows up to US Open rocking a designer tutu and KILLS it. pic.twitter.com/3WUjrUiV2B
But who knows what new dress codes the French tournament might come up with by next year?
This is apparently what the French Open wants. Thanks for standing up for Serena and all women. This is 2018. pic.twitter.com/bDtdQQg9Md— Covfefe Pecker-Weissel Jones???? (@PromoteMyCause) August 25, 2018