WTA to allow Williams’s controversial catsuit at tournaments, adds rankings protection for mothers

The Women’s Tennis Association announced two rule changes that would have benefited legend Serena Williams during the 2018 season: her infamous ‘catsuit’ leggings are now permitted, and mothers will be granted added rankings protection when coming back from maternity leave. 

Williams, 37, wore the compression leggings as part of a catsuit outfit at the 2018 French Open, prompting French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli to ban the one-piece body suit ‘out of ‘respect [for] the game and the place.’

Now the WTA will allow ‘leggings and mid-thigh-length compression shorts without a skirt, shorts, or a dress.’

According to Yahoo Sports, Williams may still not be allowed to wear the outfit at Roland-Garros in 2019, but she will be able to do so during other tournaments. 

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Serena Williams wore the compression leggings as part of a catsuit outfit at the French Open, prompting French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli to ban the one-piece body suit 'out of 'respect [for] the game and the place.' Now the WTA will allow 'leggings and mid-thigh-length compression shorts without a skirt, shorts, or a dress'

Serena Williams wore the compression leggings as part of a catsuit outfit at the French Open, prompting French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli to ban the one-piece body suit 'out of 'respect [for] the game and the place.' Now the WTA will allow 'leggings and mid-thigh-length compression shorts without a skirt, shorts, or a dress'

Serena Williams wore the compression leggings as part of a catsuit outfit at the French Open, prompting French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli to ban the one-piece body suit ‘out of ‘respect [for] the game and the place.’ Now the WTA will allow ‘leggings and mid-thigh-length compression shorts without a skirt, shorts, or a dress’

The new WTA rule will allow any player to wear compression pants or shorts without a skirt 

The new WTA rule will allow any player to wear compression pants or shorts without a skirt 

The new WTA rule will allow any player to wear compression pants or shorts without a skirt 

The 23-time Grand Slam winner gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian in September of 2017 and returned for the 2018 French Open, but was forced to retire because of an injury

The 23-time Grand Slam winner gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian in September of 2017 and returned for the 2018 French Open, but was forced to retire because of an injury

The 23-time Grand Slam winner gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian in September of 2017 and returned for the 2018 French Open, but was forced to retire because of an injury

Williams had to undergo an emergency c-section with her daughter Alexis Jr. last year and developed multiple blood clots after the delivery. Later she said she nearly died from complications, which is one reason why she chose to wear compression leggings during the 2018 French Open. 

Williams also dedicated the catsuit to ‘mothers everywhere’ following her return from maternity leave. She said the outfit made her feel like a ‘queen from Wakanda,’ which is a reference to the movie ‘Black Panther.’ 

Williams missed much of 2017 and 2018 during her pregnancy and after she gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian 

Williams missed much of 2017 and 2018 during her pregnancy and after she gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian 

Williams missed much of 2017 and 2018 during her pregnancy and after she gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian 

After the tournament banned the outfit, Williams received an outpouring of support on social media.  

The 23-time Grand Slam winner gave birth to daughter Alexis Olympia Ohanian in September of 2017 and returned for the 2018 French Open, but was forced to drop out because of a pectoral injury. 

Her world ranking had fallen to 451 when she was not seeded at the French Open. She was, however, seeded 25th at this year’s Wimbledon despite being ranked outside world’s top 32 players.  

Now, thanks to added rankings protections by the WTA, players returning from maternity leave or injury will be able to use their previous ranking to enter 12 tournaments over a three-year period.

However, Williams’s request for returning mothers to be seeded in line with their rankings has not been approved.

Williams poses with her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, and their daughter 

Williams poses with her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, and their daughter 

Williams poses with her husband, Reddit co-founder Alexis Ohanian, and their daughter 

Giudicelli’s decision to ban Williams’ catsuit at the French Open sparked fury among Twitter users, who took to the platform to blast the ‘terrible’ and ‘racist’ move.

Some also struggled to understand what motivated the decision, and pointed out that Williams’ outfit covers her entire body.

‘Serena Williams, who wore an outfit specifically designed to help prevent blood clots because she almost *died* after giving birth, won’t be able to wear her catsuit again at the French Open because the tournament chief… doesn’t like it,’ one Twitter user wrote. ‘That’s literally the only reason.’

‘Please explain how this catsuit is disrespectful?’ another person asked. ‘Sit down dude.’ 

Not having it: The decision to ban Williams' catsuit sparked fury among Twitter users

Not having it: The decision to ban Williams' catsuit sparked fury among Twitter users

Not having it: The decision to ban Williams’ catsuit sparked fury among Twitter users

Speaking out: Some also struggled to understand what motivated the decision, and pointed out that Williams' outfit covers her entire body

Speaking out: Some also struggled to understand what motivated the decision, and pointed out that Williams' outfit covers her entire body

Speaking out: Some also struggled to understand what motivated the decision, and pointed out that Williams’ outfit covers her entire body

Williams embraced the support she received for her catsuit during the tournament. 

‘It feels like this suit represents all the women that have been through a lot mentally, physically, with their body to come back and have confidence and to believe in themselves,’ she said at the time. ‘I definitely feel like it is an opportunity for me to inspire a whole different group of amazing women and kids.’

The outfit called to mind Williams’ black ‘catsuit’ that she wore at the 2002 U.S. Open. It also was reminiscent of the white bodysuit that American player Anne White wore at Wimbledon in 1985.

Williams referred to what she wore at the French Open as the ‘catsuit — the new version, 2.0.’

‘I call it, like, my Wakanda-inspired catsuit,’ referring to the fictional nation in the film Black Panther.

‘We designed it way before the movie,’ she said, ‘but still, it kind of reminds me of that.’

 

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