In a curious move, the French tennis federation announced on the US Open's final day of qualifying that it would not permit certain attire as of the 2019 Roland Garros event in Paris.
FFT president Bernard Giudicelli singled out Serena Williams' black bodysuit as an example of attire that would not pass the French Open's standards next May – in Paris, one of the world's fashion meccas, no less.
In her first press conference on site in New York, and in response to its lead-off question, Williams herself deescalated the situation.
"I think that obviously the Grand Slams have a right to do what they want to do," she said, adding, "I feel like 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 would be fine."
She also noted that Bodysuit: Part Deux is hardly on her sartorial horizon.
"When it comes to fashion, you don't want to be a repeat offender," she said with a laugh at the media briefing, offering that she has "found another solution" to stop blood clots by wearing fishnet-esque tights in her matches.
On Monday night, Williams emerged on Arthur Ashe Stadium in a one-sleeved tutu designed by a collaboration between Nike and Off-White's Virgil Abloh. She won her first match in New York in two years over Magda Linette, 6-4, 6-0.
Beyond the style aspect of Williams' wear in Paris, which marked her return to Grand Slam tennis, the bodysuit she sported was designed to halt harmful blood clotting, a health matter that Williams has openly struggled with in her life.
She said the catsuit made her feel like a superhero, and many remarked at the time on the striking statement it made about body positivity, as Williams continued to find her form – she would reach the Wimbledon singles final weeks later – after childbirth ten months earlier.
Giudicelli's words clouded the matter, fairly directly singling out Williams, a 23-time major singles champion with multiple crowns in Paris whose coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, is French and operates his titular academy in Roland Garros' home country.
Saying "I think that sometimes we've gone too far" and "One must respect the game and the place," Giudicelli revealed that he and his peers are more prudish than those who oversee Wimbledon's dress code. They are certainly out of touch, tone-deaf to the potential – and then fully realized – response to their messaging.
A host of observers, including Billie Jean King, Andy Roddick, Brooklyn Decker and more notables, took to social media to send up the FFT decision.
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
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
Perhaps Nike itself, maker of Williams' talked-about, now-controversial bodysuit, said it best by making more bold statements in on-court fashion.
Follow Jon on Twitter @jonscott9.
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