Serena Williams is a queen of the tennis court who has won major tournaments many times over. But one moment in particular went down both in sport and in fashion history. It was 2002, at the U.S. Open in Flushing, N.Y. Over the course of two weeks as Williams served her way to the title, critics and fans alike incessantly discussed her hair, her muscles, her swing, her grunts and her clothes. Tennis should be about the sport and the win, but we know that when a sister comes to play, it also becomes about her body and choice of sports apparel. Williams slayed all the commentators by winning the tournament while rocking an ultratight, supershort black catsuit that, like the young woman wearing it, challenged the White establishment’s idea of what tennis was supposed to look like. It was a singular OMG moment for the sport and since then, tennis fashions have never been the same. Neither has the game. In 2013, while at a press conference for an Argentinean exhibition, Williams stood next to her also supremely talented sister, Venus, and famously said: “We changed tennis.”
That wasn’t bravado or a stretch. It was the truth. Serena said what we already knew was true: When Black folks get involved, a change is gonna come. Case in point? Not only is Serena one of the best in history, but that black catsuit is now memorialized in the museum at the International Tennis Hall of Fame in Newport, R.I. And given that summer adds emphasis to the tennis season, what better time than now to get reacquainted with the stars who have ushered in the change?
Read more in the July 2015 issue of EBONY Magazine.