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Tue, Sept. 17

Howard: Don’t mess with my tutu, or my cat suit
My Point

Serena Williams serves to Kaia Kanepi, of Estonia, during the fourth round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018, in New York. (Adam Hunger/AP)

Serena Williams serves to Kaia Kanepi, of Estonia, during the fourth round of the U.S. Open tennis tournament, Sunday, Sept. 2, 2018, in New York. (Adam Hunger/AP)

It’s the day and age of almost anything goes in the world of tennis attire as well as where you change your clothes during a tennis match.

Serena Williams who is noted as one of the best tennis players ever with 23 grand slam singles titles and still playing top tennis at the age of 36, even after having a baby (Olympia) 11 months ago is making new statements with her tennis fashion.

In her first round match at the Open this year she wore a one-shoulder black ballerina-like tutu skirt, which is not exactly the usual clothing tennis players wear. It didn’t keep her from winning and some fans liked it and others didn’t, so what - right?

Only days earlier French Federation president Bernard Giudicelli announced that the catsuit Williams wore at the French Open “will no longer be accepted….one must respect the game and the place.” Thus a new dress code will be put in place there in 2019 for all players.

Williams response was, “obviously the grand slams have a right to do what they want to do, but I feel like if and when or if they know that some things are for health reasons then there’s no way they wouldn’t be okay with it.” (She wears tight design/compression tights to prevent blood clots she has been experiencing).

Tennis icon Billie Jean King tweeted, “The policing of women’s bodies must end. The respect: that’s needed is for the exceptional talent that Serena Williams brings to the game. Criticizing what she wears to work is where the true disrespect lies.”

This last week at the U.S. Open there was another situation that occurred.

We all know that when men players need to change their shirts on change-overs they just take their shirts off and put on a new one. Since they’re in pretty good shape, no one seems to care and many probably even like it.

But when Alize Cornet realized she had put her shirt on in-side-out at last Tuesdays Open match, and she quickly took it off (with a sports bra on) and righted the wrong, she was given a code violation.

The USTA has since apologized and said the umpire was not in the wrong, but the policy will be revised.

Seems we’ve all witnessed women players changing their skirts and shirts in the past with officials holding towels up around them and we watched Brandi Chastain rip off her shirt (with a sports bra on) after winning the Women’s World Cup, so why this has become such a big thing I don’t know. Both men and women are allowed a bathroom break to change clothes if needed as well.

Each generation of tennis has had its way of progressing with their clothing needs for the sport of tennis. From long skirts and trousers too white shorts and shorter and shorter skirts, T-Shirts to collared shirts, frilly undergarments, color added, longer and baggy shorts and shirts, compression shorts and shirts, muscle shirts and capri pants, and now cat suits and tutu’s.

Ted Tinling who was fired from his Wimbledon duties for creating Gussie Moran’s lacey panties would surely be enjoying all this controversy.

Some people want to make a statement with their clothes while others just want to be comfortable and play as well as possible. Add in clothing and shoe sponsors and anything can take place.

If the grand slam authorities wish to have a special dress code put in place hopefully they’re pretty reasonable, and if the players don’t like what takes place they can always boycott the tournament.

It’s probably just one of those moments where you shouldn’t sweat the small stuff, there are bigger problems in this world to worry about.

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 40 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or

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