Are Venus Williams' Tennis Outfits a Distraction?
Venus Williams is a fashionista on the tennis court, but she might be sending the wrong message with her wild style.
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Venus Williams' rise from the rough streets of Compton, Calif., to become a world-champion tennis player is an incredible, inspiring tale. Along with her sister Serena, Venus Williams has smashed the country-club stereotype with a force harder than one of her blistering serves.
But a problem that has developed over the last few years is continuing to grow: Through two rounds of the 2011 Australian Open, before a hip-flexor injury forced her to withdraw on Friday, Williams' attire was getting more notice than her play. As a fashion designer with her own clothing line, she likes the attention. But she's sending the wrong message through some of her outfits, which skew closer to bad than good in the taste department.
Wednesday's choice in her second-round victory against Sandra Zahlavova was a citrus-colored, basket-weave top. It was another talker, for sure, but nothing compared to Monday's outfit, a formfitting, blue minidress no longer than a T-shirt. Thank goodness she decided at the last minute to forgo the "illusion" underwear she unveiled last year: flesh-colored shorts that made it appear as if she weren't wearing any drawers at all. The misimpression was so convincing, Deadspin and other outlets asked the question, "Did Venus Go Commando?"
Last year also brought us the Hoochie Mama special, which she trotted out in the third round of the U.S. Open. A glorified, Spandex-like tank top, it was paired with matching, bedazzled panties that got as much airtime as the net itself. The top rode up to her waist during most points, causing her to constantly fidget and squirm and readjust.
It became a major topic during the broadcast and led to a "tug count" graphic, showing how many times Williams and her opponent pulled at their respective outfits following a point. She led her opponent in that category 42-4. To call the outfit a distraction is a major understatement.
She also sported a lingerie-style outfit at the French Open, wearing a lacy, black-and-red dress that was part cancan, part corset and all bedroom -- if not gentleman's club. The flesh-colored shorts drew more attention to her backside than to her backhand.