When Serena Williams returned to tennis after giving birth to her daughter, she did so in the ultimate power suit. She wore a black Nike catsuit, a nod, at least in part, to Black Panther. “I call it, like, my Wakanda-inspired catsuit,” she joked at the time. On Instagram, she dedicated it to “all the moms out there who had a tough recovery from pregnancy.”
Nearly 800,000 people liked that post but the French Tennis Federation are apparently not fans.
The Associated Press reports that she’ll be banned from wearing a similar outfit thanks to a new dress code. Bernard Giudicelli, the president of the French Tennis Federation, told Tennis magazine her catsuit was specifically a problem. “It will no longer be accepted. One must respect the game and the place,” he said. “I think that sometimes we’ve gone too far.”
Williams’ suit was more than a fashion moment, though. It had potentially live-saving functionality. As a full-body compression garment, it was made to help with blood clots, a health issue she’s dealt with frequently in the past. At one point, a pulmonary embolism in her lung left her on the sidelines for a year.
“They told me I had several blood clots in both lungs,” she said in 2011. “A lot of people die from that.” And when she was giving birth to her daughter, Alexis Olympia, last year, she had a pulmonary embolism, and her knowledge of her history with blood clots helped her advocate for herself when doctors and nurses ignored her.
“I had a lot of problems with my blood clots, and, God, I don’t know how many I have had in the past 12 months. So it is definitely a little functionality to it,” Williams said of the suit. “I have been wearing pants in general a lot when I play, so I can keep the blood circulation going. It’s a fun suit but it’s also functional, so I can be able to play without any problems.”
Giudicelli said the rules won’t be as strict as Wimbledon, which makes everyone wear white, but they will be asking designers to give them an advance look at designs for players and will “impose certain limits.”
It’s just the latest example of Williams being singled out and shamed for her outfits—and, by extension, her body. And this one seems particularly egregious given the health risks at stake.
Let the G.O.A.T be the G.O.A.T.
From Harper’s Bazaar