Fashion may not be everything, but it's certainly something. And you don't have to work in the clothing industry to appreciate and escalate its value, and understand that you can wear next to anything with confidence. Now-former First Lady Michelle Obama knew that well, and the titans of tennis style who win out year after year, Slam after Slam, share in that knowledge.
Here are the best on-court style statements at the 2017 Australian Open.
Benoit Paire won the short-shorts award this Slam, and Lacoste gave him a front-running polo to boot. It was a fresh set ready to match the personality of its model, a high-end style that wouldn't look ridiculous on a weekend club player.
In minty adidas by Stella McCartney, Garbine Muguruza won big in style, before falling big to unseeded CoCo Vandeweghe in the quarterfinals. The Spaniard's look has served as a welcome note that a color from the same family as the court's own blue can be complementary and play off of it with winning results. The fit has looked comfy, and some might ascertain that with a fantastic style comes a certain measure of confidence as well. (Michelle Obama would likely agree.)
Where Angelique Kerber and others erred with a lot of draping on their separates, Kristina Mladenovic makes no such miss. Her top was simpler, and she let the skirt do the talking in the same mint favored by Muguruza. Adidas done right.
As a stand-alone, Nicole Gibbs' skirt by New Balance arrived a flat-out winner. Then she (figuratively) ran into Serena.
From the tattoo department: Though her fashion sense fell short as clothes go Down Under, Svetlana Kuznetsova will forever reign among the greats in terms of statement-making ink.
As natural accessories go, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga's hair might have taken on a life all its own. Those are some handsome follicles. Aside from his well-coiffed dome, Tsonga avoided the unforced error of his white-and-orange–wearing sponsor mates such as Mischa Zverev and Dominic Thiem and went with a deep blue. The outcome couldn't be more different, and better.
Adorned by Nike as always, Roger Federer surprised by wearing a printed tee, a henley style that Novak Djokovic also sported, at a major for the first time in years. The sum of all things here—shirt, shorts, socks and treads—has been, dare I say, peRFect. Between the sartorial wonderment and his quiver of varied darts when on the clock, you have to give him a nod for continuing to find ways to excel that are both tried and true, and new.
Dressed by Ellesse, Monica Puig won out where peers including CoCo Vandeweghe and Fabio Fognini went amiss with their wardrobe: The classic blues in her dress didn't take over from the predominant white that kept the frock clean and sleek—and avoided the camouflaging appearance that her head was floating and bobbing around the court.
In her eponymous EleVen brand, Venus Williams did not disappoint with a simple white tank and gorgeous purple-centric skirt, replete with waist insert. All the more stylish is the fact that she's into her fourth consecutive fourth-round-or-better showing at a Slam with a semifinal run. Not bad for a 36-year-old lady, no?
Dominika Cibulkova got a refreshed look from Lacoste for the season's major star, with complementary pleats in her navy skirting and a surprising cutout in the back of the dress. It served to show that even changing up one detail can make a bold difference.
Serena Williams' Nike dress has been described as 1980s-inspired and as a tribute to piano keys. Says here it's a somewhat confounding but ultimately appealing print, and the silhouette flatters her. One minor note: I would like to see her sport it sans leggings underneath, which detracted from the dress during her third-rounder against Gibbs. It looked a bit clunky there. Even so, regarding the gold-accented treads, Serena always gets her kicks.
Rafael Nadal has been the portrait of class and clean styling for a few years now, and this event brought nothing different from Nike, featuring simple black-and-white pieces and a flair (or flare) for orange. Beyond that, his practice tank brought all the fans to the yard.
In shorts akin to Federer's from Wimbledon 2016, Grigor Dimitrov has sailed into the quarterfinals on the strength of brilliant play and an easy-going yet fashionable crew-neck shirt. The orange shoes he and his Nike brethren have stepped into at this Aussie Open have been the brand's eyesore, highlighter-yellow look from last year's US Open reimagined correctly.
After a good many opportunities taken to roast Mona Barthel's on-court styles, it stands to reason that she would present her best look ever, in tasteful white and hot pink, upon making it to the fourth round, before falling to Venus Williams. Not a high fashion bar by her own standards—there are doilies in her Slam skirting history—but a highlight all the same.
Karolina Pliskova's unfussy Fila attire has made her look like a champion-in-waiting. Her fearsome serve and groundstrokes have certainly backed that up. (And she might play runner-up to Kuznetsova in the tattoo race, but it's a tight one.)
Also in Fila, Jelena Jankovic rocked a vintage-y dress that revealed her sponsor and Ellesse remain locked in a battle to move classic-style units. The red, white and blue worked for her, even if her legs gave out in more than three-and-a-half hours against Kuznetsova. The one thing I'd do away with: the repeat coloring on the visor. That complicated matters—not that Jankovic needs any help in that arena—and should have been a solid, simple navy.
That's enough of the good, check out the Australian Open Fashion Faults next.
Follow Jon on Twitter @jonscott9.