It's a different year for tennis fashion in Flushing. Style stalwarts such as Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal did not make the trek, nor did six of the top 10 WTA stars. They all had their reasons—knee-surgery rehab (Fed), COVID-19 considerations (quite a few), and prep for the delayed-from-May clay-court season (Simona Halep, Nadal and more).
In their absences, not just the pathways toward the titles opened up, but so, too, did the opportunity to make a sartorial statement. They'll happily vie for the former, and if the latter happens in the making, so be it. As to the wardrobe winners, let's get to it:
Best Mask: Style Speaks to the Moment
At the outset, considerations of the moments of social solidarity that athletes and other public figures are stringing together in these days. Naomi Osaka stood out for stark stances on the subject of the Black Lives Matter movement. She came to Queens with seven names on seven masks, for seven matches she aims to play. Whoever one's favorite pro is, you may find yourself glad for her to make the final.
Apart from societal-equity statements, the best PPE fashion appeared on Venus Williams' visage, as she sported a Wonder Woman mask before and after falling in the first round to Karolina Muchova. After out-hitting Victoria Azarenka two weeks ago at the Top Seed Open, Venus couldn't mask some inconsistencies against an in-form foe who played with margin. Still, she reminded us all to have bated breath for the pandemic-delayed Wonder Woman 1984 film.
Best in Shoe: Kicking It New-School
In a Nike x Comme de Garcon collab, Osaka will have a new shoe drop in November. (See the fourth image here.) Before that, she revealed fresh treads in New York, on down to the "Home Is Where the Heart Is" text treatment and the flourish of her own signature.
Best Follicles: Hair Apparent
Jeffrey John aka JJ Wolf won this tournament's mane draw, that's for sure. Looking like a 1986 grinder stepped into 2020, he made waves in the US Open hair game, and on Twitter. His look, from Lotto, was a no-no compared to what some thought he should've been decked out in for a multi-match run with flair.
With all due respect to Lotto, how is J.J. Wolf not wearing the 1990 Agassi-inspired NikeCourt collection... pic.twitter.com/Ek0s94Fuf0— Ed McGrogan (@EdMcGrogan) September 5, 2020
In an Asics dress that flattered her form and forehand blasts both, Jennifer Brady sashayed into the second week in a simple, minty delight. Not quite an empire waist, but certainly an Empire State of Mind.
With clean, stately lines, Roberto Bautista Agut and Daniil Medevedev rocked color-blocked variations of the same Lacoste polo, which classed it up compared to the erratic print on another star's collared kit from the same maker.
Somehow Adidas and Nike both came to New York with pink-meets-red palettes, but this Angelique Kerber number from Adidas came away pristine, even if she fell to Brady.
In a Diadora tee, Alejandro Davidovich Fokina and others, including Jan-Lennard Struff, looked young and fun in shades of green and a retro vibe.
Indeed, we need to talk about Nike here. The 1990s homage, with some players drumming up Andre Agassi's flashy image of the era, seemed to work best (or only) on those who were barely or not yet alive for it. Namely: Felix Auger-Aliassime, Andrey Rublev, and Amanda Anisimova. They won out in the look when they broke up the biker shorts underneath with solid-hued shorts.
Borna Coric impressed in his five-set takedown of Stefanos Tsitsipas, and outside of that, a spunky, teal-and-orange T-shirt from Asics carried the night.
Like one of her heroes, Venus Williams, she didn't make it out of round 1, but Coco Gauff illuminated this event with a lovely flourescent-meets-burnt orange frock by New Balance. It came accented by silvery polka dots on the skirting.
Best Dressed: WTA
Cue the Kid Cudi, as day and night, Naomi Osaka appeared the epitome of a star in her Nike kits, from primary colors that summoned up her 2017 look for Adidas to the striking nighttime glow of fluorescent green married with regal purple and black. Unrivaled colorways in this event, to be determined whether unrivaled in the match outcomes. (One minor bit of umbrage: those fantastic shoes clashing with the night-session kit.)
Best Dressed: ATP
Stefanos Tsitsipas fell out in five hours to Coric, and it's unclear quite how his ankle doesn't break at times (see: this shot), but his Adidas kit's pink inflections overpowered the uninspired design on a gray top, which looks like oh-so-many tennis tees since 1998.
Nevertheless, she persisted—in Nike. Vying for her first major title since bringing beautiful Olympia into the world (3 years old as of this event), Serena Williams donned a lovely red dress with draped skirting. The real stunners of her attire are those shoes, an eye-grabbing, red-maroon merger.
Fila did Aussie Open champ Sofia Kenin right. Margarita Gasparyan sported a clean, crisp version in all-navy, though Kenin's green skirt and shoes made the look pop. They also anti-aged her. She became an unexpected major winner in January, but Kenin's still just 21.
It may go down as one of the more sedate fashion fortnights in major tennis history. If so, that suits this muted year overall. Even so, a few players flew off the rack and into the memories of many a tennis clotheshorse.