Serena Williams is a six-time US Open champion
Former world No. 1 wore dress designed by Louis Vuitton's Virgil Abloh
French Open catsuit banned for 2019
Serena Williams’ tennis outfits are often the talk of the town, and she set New York tongues wagging with her latest creation in a routine opening victory at the US Open Monday.
The 36-year-old downed 68th-ranked Magda Linette of Poland 6-4 6-0 in her first home slam since becoming a mother.
But after French Open organizers ruled out a repeat of the black catsuit she wore in Paris for next year, all eyes were on what the 23-time grand slam singles champion would be wearing at Flushing Meadows.
She didn’t disappoint.
Williams entered the night session at Arthur Ashe Stadium wearing a $900 black bomber jacket with white stitching, over a $500 black-and-brown one-shoulder silhouette dress with tulle skirt.
“It’s easy to play in,” Williams said in a news conference afterwards.
“Kind of aerodynamic with the one arm free. It feels really good. Yeah, the tutu is easy to play in because I practiced in it before. That was fun.”
The dress, designed by Louis Vuitton menswear artistic director Virgil Abloh, one of the hottest names in fashion, for Nike, was the culmination of a perfect public relations campaign in the past week for Williams’ long-time clothing sponsor.
First, there was controversy over the black Nike catsuit Williams wore at Roland Garros, which prompted officials to introduce a dress code for the first time in Paris next year.
Then came a cleverly timed Nike ad, showing a moving home video of Williams practising her serve with her father and former coach, Richard Williams, when she was nine years old. Williams Sr. is telling his daughter to pretend she is at the US Open.
The ad has had close to five million views.
Venus clash looms
Williams’ preparation for the year’s final major was not ideal, having played just three matches on US hard courts and having to postpone her pre-tournament press conference in New York by a day because she wasn’t feeling well.
None of that mattered against Linette, whom Williams dismissed in 70 minutes as she struck 23 winners and made 18 unforced errors.
“I thought it was a good match,” Williams said. “Magda, she’s such a fighter. She’s a very hard worker…I think overall I had a little shaky start, but I got into it.”
Williams plays world No. 101 Carina Witthoeft of Germany in the second round, before a possible blockbuster clash against her older sister Venus, who overcame former US Open winner Svetlana Kuznetsova of Russia in a three-set match lasting close to three hours.
Serena Williams, a six-time winner in New York who is seeded 17th after returning from maternity leave earlier in the year, didn’t want to be drawn on playing her sister just yet.
“Just got to play, hopefully get there,” she said.