Faux Pas: Venus Can-Can Cause Chaos

The Williams sisters have always had a…eh, unique sense of style. Their bold fashion choices on the court have been a source of consternation for traditional tennis fans who prefer something a little more understated.  But while Serena’s unusual fashion choices have resulted in a few blushing ball boys, Venus’ French Open outfit is more Playboy Mansion than Stade Roland Garros.

The Moulin Rouge inspired garment looks like something that you might find at a trashy lingerie store in a bad neighborhood.  And black and red together, talk about a cliche.  Add in the can-can flounce on the bottom and she looks more aptly suited for a kick-line than a service line.  But if you think the outerwear is bad, you haven’t seen anything yet.

What really drew the ire of the crowd at the French Open was not the black lace tennis dress, but the flesh colored booty shorts that she wore underneath.  (I’d post the photo, but this is a G-rated blog.)  Because there is nothing more demure than flashing your allegedly bare rear end at the camera every time that you reach for a lob.  Classy.

I bet the first time she went for a serve the camera guy and the TV crew in the booth went nuts hoping that they hadn’t just committed a massive FCC violation.  I would have paid good money to be a fly on that control console.  

I’m not sure why Venus feels the need to imply nudity on the court.  You would think that a woman who is ranked 3rd in the world and who has 43 career singles titles could just let her talent speak for itself, but why be talented when you can be trashy.  These girls like to cause chaos because they loathe the fuddy-duddy nature of tennis, but you would think that they could show a little respect for the sport that helped pull them out of Compton and place them on red carpets, runways and millionaire’s row.  But the subject of their attitude/gratitude aside, the whole look is just tacky to the nth degree even the streetwalkers on New York Avenue have better taste.



  1. R says:

    Wow, classist slut-shaming much? I agree that it’s not a subtle look, nor my own preference in her place — but the overt classism (“why be talented when you can be trashy” and “pull them out of Compton and place them on red carpets”) and the idea that they should venerate the sport — they brought themselves to the place that they’re at. She is a part of the sport, not a beggarly outstretched hand that the powers that be have deigned to allow her t weasel in, so long as she oesn’ make noise. Heaven forbid a black woman (not girl–would you use a diminutive if you were talking about a male?) show some agency in expressing herself outside of the WASP-y country club clothing norm of the sport.

    May 25, 2010/Reply
  2. Belle says:

    My point is this: When you are as talented as Venus why do you have to try so hard to grab headlines? She’s not a stupid woman, in fact, she’s very media savvy. But it upsets me that she is going out of her way to stir up controversy, I don’t like when Lady Gaga or Christina Aguilera do it either.

    If she had been wearing black shorts underneath, I wouldn’t have cared. But she was wearing flesh toned shorts to imply that she is naked and this is lingerie, that’s not professional whether you are on the court or in the office.

    May 25, 2010/Reply
  3. O says:

    I love Venus and I love watching her play tennis…she’s worked hard to get where she is, and she can wear whatever the hell she wants!

    May 25, 2010/Reply
  4. Sarah says:

    I agree with Belle. This woman is protrayed as a child role-model and a key figure in the “women who’ve made it” roll call. Although I agree that she can wear anything she wants to, I do believe she has to consider who she represents and the implications of her fashion choices. I’d rather shock-and-awe with raw, unrefined talent than with nudie panties.

    May 25, 2010/Reply
  5. Sarah says:


    May 25, 2010/Reply
  6. Suburban Sweetheart says:

    Nothing about this bothers me. At all. Least of all the nude shorts. At least she was wearing them! Cheerleaders do it all the time, as do dancers, as do ice skaters. Just because tennis is typically buttoned-up & pleat-skirted, Venus is the one who did something wrong? I say kudos to her for adding a little color, for riling up a stuffy sport. And for covering herself up where she needed to be covered up, nude-colored or not.

    Give me a break. She’s a damn good tennis player, & it’s demeaning to watch the media waste so much time talking about her backside instead of focusing on her her backhand.

    May 25, 2010/Reply
  7. K. says:

    I wouldn’t necessarily perceive this post as class-ism. There are certain standards and expectations in any sport or occupation, no matter where you come from. Tennis has a very classy reputation when it comes to how the players dress. Venus and Serena both have looked very good in their own line of clothing and then at times, look terrible…as seen above. Yes, these women push the envelope as far as they possibly can, maybe for reaction’s sake, but seriously…this outfit is just a show of poor judgment on Venus’s part. She should want to exude the greatness and confidence she has. She’s an incredible woman and carries herself beautifully most of the time. No matter the color of her skin or where she came from, this does nothing to keep her from looking trashy.

    May 25, 2010/Reply
  8. lexa says:

    She is black and “flesh tone” short are generally tan/beigy. ie made for white women. If we are getting technical here, black/dark brown shorts would have been flesh toned.

    May 25, 2010/Reply
  9. K. says:

    Haha touché on the shorts.

    May 25, 2010/Reply
  10. MG says:

    I’ll invoke a cliche here and say that Venus Williams could wear a paper bag and it wouldn’t make a damn bit of difference on the court. She’s going to kick your ass regardless.

    Are there specific rules regarding tennis attire? Obviously if there are any guidelines they are open to a good deal of interpretation, as Venus and Serena have, from time to time, chosen provocative attire over traditional attire. Also, is it possible to consider just for a moment that these world-class athletes are trying to…have fun? That they have other aspects to their personality they feel entitled to express?

    If Venus Williams, at her level of play, still has it in her to enjoy herself while she continues to make history, who are we to tell her no? Yes, her outfit was tacky (in my opinion). Yes, the flesh-colored shorts were eyebrow-raising. But I don’t think it’s a good idea to start telling women “no” in this regard. Particularly an accomplished adult woman who has commanded the attention of millions for many years, mostly for reasons having not one damn thing to do with what she wears.

    Finally – this is a strong, healthy, capable, amazing female body, a body that was achieved through hard work and more hard work and more hard work. A body that has allowed this woman to travel the world, represent her country and her family with pride and accomplish things most of us don’t even dream about.

    So to reduce that amazing body and this talented woman to her outfit choice is not only reductive and petty, but indicative of something that’s so wrong with so many of us. You’re okay with her being a good tennis player, but only on your terms? Only if she meets a certain expectation that you personally have for her appearance and demeanor? Come on.

    May 25, 2010/Reply
  11. D says:

    Venus has worn these shorts under a tennis dress before, and there were blog posts/articles for days wondering if she was wearing ANY underwear at all.

    It’s definitely tacky, and a little obscene.

    May 25, 2010/Reply
  12. Narm says:

    In an age when there are uber celebrities that are famous for nothing more than sex tapes, we are surprised when a famous female uses sex to get her name in the papers?

    I think her outfit was stupid, for the record, but society has proven the less class you have, the more famous you become.

    May 25, 2010/Reply
  13. Lou says:

    I’m sorry, but that’s just tacky and classless and takes away from the amazing athlete that she is. If she (and others) think the focus should be on her accomplishments and not on her fashion choices then perhaps she shouldn’t wear something that screams, “hey, I might be naked underneath my Frederick’s of Hollywood tennis outfit.” Riiight.

    May 25, 2010/Reply
  14. Suburban Sweetheart says:

    For the record, I should state that I think this outfit is hideous. But I also just don’t think it’s a big deal.

    May 25, 2010/Reply
  15. Jaime says:

    I think the outfit is fine, but those undies were too much! It looked like her bare behind was hanging out every time she bent over. Don’t get that one bit.

    May 25, 2010/Reply
  16. A says:

    Belle. I agree. It’s tacky and gross.

    May 25, 2010/Reply