May 26, 2010
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Americans prove world-beaters in tennis fashion show

May 26, 2010

By Dave James (AFP)

PARIS — It's been eight years since America produced a French Open women's champion, but they're proving winners when it comes to turning heads with their wacky wardrobes.

Photo: AFP

Venus Williams appeared for her first-round match wearing a black, lacy outfit with red trimming, a plunging neckline and flesh-coloured underwear that kept photographers busy.

Many observers wondered whether the world number two had confused Roland Garros with the Moulin Rouge.

"The outfit is about illusion, and that's been a lot of my motif this year, illusion," explained the 30-year-old to mystified journalists, mainly men.

"These days I just have a lot of fun with my designs and designing and doing different things."

How many of these outfits does she bring to events?

"Probably about eight to 10. I do recycle. I'm not superstitious, but I bring enough just for the back-up plan."

Not to be outdone, sister Serena, the last American champion in Paris in 2002, once wore a black catsuit on court.

On her way to winning the Australian Open this year, the world number one donned a yellow dress with flesh-coloured underwear and said that she too was concentrating on 'illusions'.

"I just sketched it out. The whole idea is just about the illusion that I?m wearing a deep V-neck. Then the idea was to wear shorts that were like the same colour as my skin. It works very well, apparently," she said at the time.

But the Williams sisters have serious competition in the fashion stakes at the French Open in the shape of Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who once played at Wimbledon Centre Court wearing white football socks and a boob-tube.

She has also donned leopard print outfits while also once appearing with a cowboy hat, which cost her a 10,000-dollar fine from the authorities.

On Tuesday 25 May, Mattek-Sands played her first-round match at the French Open wearing a pink shirt, black skirt and knee-high black socks before springing to the defence of Venus Williams.

"She's got a lot of crap for it, but it makes tennis interesting," said Mattek-Sands.

"You can't say it's OK for Maria Sharapova but it's not OK for Venus.

"I think it's great. If you see two blonde-haired girls wearing the same outfits, it's really hard for the fans to tell them apart."

Mattek-Sands says she will be sticking to the socks for the rest of the year, but with different colours for different occasions.

She insists her style is becoming more conservative.

"Your dress often depends on which tournament you are in and who is the supervisor, some are more lenient than others," she said. "For a while I had to get all of my clothes approved."

Despite her colourful dress sense, offset by an extravagant tattoo on the inside of her right upper-arm, Mattek-Sands is married to an insurance executive.

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