Hey, Venus Williams: Don’t You Have A More Appropriate Outfit To Play Tennis In?
Dressed in a tight, short, barely-there pink skirt and a pair of bedazzled underwear, Venus looked like she—literally—rolled out of bed and took the court on Sunday. She didn’t look like she was celebrating Labor Day weekend; she looked like she was celebrating Valentine’s Day weekend. At home. With her boyfriend. Sitting next to a fire. Yes, her outfit was that revealing.
It was so revealing that reporters questioned her about the outfit before they asked her anything about her match on Sunday. Her response? “This outfit was supposed to be about New York,” she said. “It’s like bursts of fireworks.”
If by fireworks, she meant that her outfit lit up the court, you won’t get an argument from me. Venus certainly had all eyes on her during her match thanks to the sparkly skirt. And, of course, this isn’t the first time Venus Williams has caused controversy due to an outfit she’s worn on the court. Back in May, she wore a lacy black-and-red number that somehow managed to make the revealing skirt she rocked at the Australian Open back in January look tame.
Hmmm…Are you sensing the pattern here yet? No? Well, let me spell it out for you. Over the course of the last few years, Venus Williams (and her sister Serena, for that matter) have taken the court in risque outfits that most fathers wouldn’t let their daughters wear outside of their bedroom. Seriously, I’ve seen scantily-clad girls head to the club wearing more than Venus does on the court at times.
And while it’s Venus’s decision to pick out her clothes and she’s free to represent herself in whatever way she wants, I don’t think it’s a good idea for her to continue down the path she’s going. Not because I’m offended by any of her outfits. Or because I think they’re inappropriate. Or because she’s setting a bad precedent to all of the little girls who watch tennis and want to be just like her.
Rather, Venus’s outfits are distracting us from her game. During her match on Sunday, CBS devoted valuable airtime to counting the number of times Venus had to tug on her skirt to keep it down. CBS analysts John McEnroe and Dick Enberg spoke not about Venus and her ability to beat her opponent, but her attire and how it was affecting her game (“She’s tugging at it,” McEnroe said. “She’s comfortable with it.”) And all the talk after the match was about the skirt, not about the W Venus had just picked up on the court.
Far be it from me to tell a grown woman how to dress, but at what point does the mainstream media, the blogs and tennis fans get so distracted by Venus’s attire that they lose sight of the fact that she’s one of the most important tennis players of her era? At what point do they stop keeping track of her wins and losses and start making charts and infographics that show off her clothing? At what point does Venus Williams turn into little more than a gimmick on the tennis court?
Listen, I understand that Venus and Serena have interests outside of tennis and I know that they’ve both been active in the world of fasion. I know that Venus is generating some good publicity around herself right now and I know that, in the end, her fashion choices could turn out to be a great career move for her.
But I also genuinely enjoy watching her play tennis. I like what she brings to the game and she makes people like me—people who normally aren’t into the sport—interested in it. She’s worked hard to build up her name and she’s gotten a lot of respect from the sports community. And I’d hate to see her lose all of that because of a few skimpy outfits.
So, what do you say, Venus? Do you have something more appropriate in the closet?