Serena Williams Keeps Showing Us How to Rise Above the Noise
Don't let naysayers get in your head.
Ahead of Serena Williams's first match at her 20th US Open, facing off against Magda Linette -- which she won, by the way -- Williams was in the news for comments made by Bernard Giudicelli, the president of the French Tennis Federation.
Giudicelli said that the French Open would ban catsuits like the one Williams wore to play in this year’s tournament. Why? “I think that sometimes we’ve gone too far,” he said. “It will no longer be accepted. One must respect the game and the place.”
Williams said that garment made her feel like a superhero and it was designed to help prevent blood clots, like the kind that led to nearly fatal complications during the birth of the tennis star’s daughter Alexis Olympia.
At best, Guidicelli’s argument could be described as specious. But fellow tennis icon Billie Jean King was one of many on social media who identified the toxic attitudes at play in his remarks.
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
“The policing of women’s bodies must end,” King wrote. “The ‘respect’ that’s needed is for the exceptional talent Serena Williams brings to the game. Criticizing what she wears to work is where the true disrespect lies.”
Williams took the high road, and had a sense of humor about the controversy. In a press conference, she responded to Guidicelli’s comments. “Everything’s fine guys. … When it comes to fashion, you don’t want to be a repeat offender,” she said. "The Grand Slams have a right to do what they want to do. … I feel like if and when, or if they know that some things are for health reasons, then there’s no way that they wouldn’t be OK with it.”
Unphased, Williams took to the court for her first match this week in a one shoulder tennis dress with a black tutu and fishnet compression tights. It was a custom creation designed by Louis Vuitton’s Virgil Abloh in collaboration Williams and Nike -- which just released an inspiring new commercial looking back at her career.
The limited edition collection -- called QUEEN -- is also going to be available for fans to purchase. Williams said the outfit helped her game. “It's easy to play in," she said. "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."
So what should you do if you find yourself dealing with an outmoded system? Know your strengths, get creative and let your talent do the talking.
Nina Zipkin is a staff writer at Entrepreneur.com. She frequently covers leadership, media, tech, startups, culture and workplace trends.