Apparently, black isn’t beautiful. Not, at least, in the world of tennis. And not according to the French Open.
So much for being open.
In May, tennis powerhouse Serena Williams donned a black bodysuit she compared to the hit Marvel movie Black Panther. Williams said at the time the getup made her feel like a verified superhero.
“I call it, like, my Wakanda-inspired catsuit. … I’m always living in a fantasy world. I always wanted to be a superhero and it’s kind of my way of being a superhero.”
The suit wasn’t actually inspired by the movie, but you’re not likely to read that in any article but this one. Because, you know, it seems way cooler the other way.
“We designed it way before the movie. But still, it kind of reminds me of that.”
Williams told The Guardian the attire helps with blood clots. It’s also a symbol of victory, given her medical complications following the caesserian delivery of her daughter, Alexis Olympia, last September.
“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 dedicated the uniform to “all the moms out there that had a tough pregnancy and had to come back and try to be fierce.”
But not so fast!
As for next year, there’ll be no black superhero stuff: discussing the dress code for 2019, French Tennis Federation President Bernard Giudicelli explained to Tennis Magazine the black costume won’t be welcome:
“It will no longer be accepted. One must respect the game and place. … It will no longer be accepted. One must respect the game and place.”
Strict dress codes are nothing new to the world of tennis. Wimbledon, for example, requires only white clothing. According to its official rules, “White does not include off-white or cream.”
So what are the political implications? Tennis organizations stand against both the color black and the triumphant, racially-themed black superhero otherwise known as the secret-identitied T’Challa?
The media have heaved praise on the action film, and it’s headed toward a Best Oscar drive. In fact, the Academy has added a new Popular Film category; some have suggested Black Panther was a motivating force. But to an Oscar consultant speaking to the LA Times, that’s bush league:
“Right now, I think [academy Chief Executive] Dawn Hudson would crawl in a hole if Black Panther gets snubbed for best picture (in 2019) and winds up landing in the ‘Popular Film’ category.”
I guess the French Open people don’t get to the movies much. Or maybe tennis is a very white sport.
Or maybe, just maybe — to the shock of falling snowflakes and triggered social justice warriors everywhere — black is just a color, and Serena Williams is more than a black person, and more than a superhero: she’s a real woman who rose to the top of her field, not because of her race or her politics, but because she earned her rightful throne, as Queen of the sport.
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