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Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 26 September 2018

Hasn't Serena Williams earned the right to wear whatever she wants? 

Williams's catsuit has been banned at Roland Garros next year

Serena Williams. EPA

When Serena Williams played at the French Open in May this year – her first major tournament since giving birth – she wore a sleek black Nike catsuit. At the time, she said it made her feel like a "superhero".

Skin tight, with a jaunty red belt, it was custom created for her by Nike partly as a compression suit, to help avoid the blood clots that she has often been at risk of, and that have increased with her pregnancy.

However, in a recent interview, French Tennis Federation (FTF) president Bernard Giudicelli announced that in the future, such outfits will no longer be allowed at Roland Garros, claiming that they will "no longer be accepted," and that players “must respect the game and the place".

This is not the first time Williams has donned a catsuit, nor is it the first time she has worn something unconventional. Since she began to dominate the game back in the late 1990s, Williams has stepped out on court in asymmetric dresses, short suits, neon brights, leopard print and even ballet style tutus. Quite why the FTF has waited until now to decree her looks to be too risque is anyone’s guess.

I, for one, love a tradition – all white at Wimbledon is wonderful – but this is 2018, and for Roland Garros to change its dress code to counter the fashion choices of one player seems a little out of touch. In today's world, where track athletes wear high-tech fabrics that help shave 100th's of a second off a personal best, that female professional tennis players still have to wear a skirt is frankly laughable, and that a catsuit is deemed unsuitable is a mystery.

An outstanding athlete – she has won an astonishing 39 major titles and 23 Grand Slams – Williams has proved she has the grit, determination and sheer gumption to become a sporting great. Displaying a mettle that is truly inspirational (sorry, France), Williams has earned the right to wear anything she wants. Superhero outfit or otherwise.

However, the best retort to FTF comes from Nike, the makers of the offending cat skin. "You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers.”

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