Venus in Wonderland

David Deady

No one can ever accuse Venus Williams of playing it safe when it comes to her on-court fashion sense. From her chic, corset-style, lace-up dress to her white Tina Turner-esque flapper number, Venus consistently raises eyebrows whenever she walks on-court. This most recent Australian Open witnessed the unveiling of yet another awe inspiring outfit from the seven-time grand slam champion.

Venus warned us prior to the tournament that her dress would be more original than ever before and she certainly made good on this promise during her match against Sandra Zahlavova on Rod Laver Arena. Emerging from the player’s locker room, her canary yellow and cosmic floral print mini dress with sheer lattice torso immediately caused a stir among the spectators. Coupled with her now infamous ‘stealth knickers,’ this outfit will certainly take some beating in the history of sport’s worst-dressed.

Resembling more of a criss-crossed pastry pie topping than a fashion-forward tennis ensemble, the dress even had players talking. Former British number one, Anne Keothavong, took to Twitter to air her concerns stating, “some interesting outfits at this year’s Aussie Open…not mentioning any names but seriously?!”

In her post-match interview, Venus explained that her dress had been inspired by Alice in Wonderland, believing that it captured the “surprising” nature of the story. While she certainly succeeded in embodying this emotion into the dress, rather than representing the ethereal and fantastical wonderment associated with Lewis Carol’s novel, it instead garnered more the surprise of finding your favourite pet run over…repeatedly.

Tennis used to be such a stylish sport but recently good taste seems to have been turned on its head, leaving us with an assortment of sweaty, garish girls in ill-fitting Lycra. While there have been some fashion successes this year, like Maria Sharapova’s gray and coral strappy sun-dress modelled during the Australian Open, the sport is still crying out for an unfailing fashion icon to lead it out of this current nightmare.

While former world number one Caroline Wozniacki showed early potential, teaming up with renowned designer Stella McCartney to create her on-court outfits, she has been largely hit-or-miss so far.

Defending her dress, Venus said that she uses fashion to express who she is on court. While I applaud her (and Serena’s) constant reinvention of acceptable tennis attire, this time she’s served an undisputable double fault. The Williams sisters have basically written the rule book on modern day tennis fashion, and although I find Venus’ most inventive creation nothing short of ghastly, I do hope they continue to revolutionise the clothing of this sport – if nothing else, at least for the comedy value involved!


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