By Jane Voigt
Victoria Azarenka usually wears skirts that are so short you can see what shouldn’t been seen. No doubt she has a well-maintained figure. But every so often, Nike goes beyond the pale … at least for its women’s lines.
This year, though, the No. 2 seed is dressed in a rather conservative skirt from her sponsor, Nike. It’s flowy and full and non-distracting, meaning fans can watch her tennis rather than her underwear when she bends over at the baseline awaiting a in-coming serve.
Here is the entire group collection. The tops are reversible. The skirt is 14″ long rather than her normal 11 3/8″.
Serena Williams, also sponsored by Nike, has a couple outfits to choose from at the U. S. Open. One for singles play and one for doubles play, when she is alongside big-sister Venus.
Although Nike is the brand most in demand at tennis specialty shops across America, this dress from Serena’s group will probably end up on the sale rack. It’s too short and requires a special undergarment because of the length. Additionally, the hem undulates with the sides shorter than either the front or back, and the back longer than the front. Very confusing, but catch her on ESPN2, CBS or live-streaming on the U. S. Open website and you will get the gist of the garb.
Thankfully, Serena has distanced herself from the garish years of one-piece zippered up brown jumpsuits that could have been worn on a scuba dive. Those were her Puma days, before Nike came to her with a big fat contract deal too good to pass by.
Her clothing section of Nike’s catalogs is aimed at the fuller-figured woman, not a Maria Sharapova lithe-like girl. Serena’s skirts are longer and tops are cut more on the boxy side.
Venus Williams began her own line of tennis clothes a couple years ago. She named it EleVen, a play on the on-a-scale-of-one-to-ten question, which she answered ‘eleven.’ Although the six-one American is out of singles’ competition, she remains on stage in doubles. Venus, like Serena, has a variation on her singles dress when playing doubles.
Julio Glushko of Israel came this close to upsetting veteran Daniela Hantuchova today in three sets, the last a tiebreak, but the Slovackian fought hard for her place in the round of sixteen for the first time in four years at the Open.
Glushko was playing in her second-only U. S. Open and had reached the third round as a qualifier. Her ranking is No. 135, which she can expect to spike into the top 100 come the end of the tournament.
Although Glushko should take the experience under a bright positive light, the Israeli 23-year-old should have a heart-to-heart with sponsor Adidas.
Her outfit, which is also worn by Caroline Wozniacki, has been received with mixed reviews. Down The Tee votes thumbs way-down, but some disagree.
The Wall Street Journal reported that two fans thought Wozniacki’s outfit was ‘very cutting-edge.’ We can agree because the back has a large cut out, which is also a design element incorporated in Alize Cornet’s Lacoste dress. Must be a trend.
The Stella McCartney design, with its overlay straps and cutouts and contrasting color blocks tips the scale on good taste in tennis clothes. It might be cutting edge, but it’s also quite, well, ugly.
Although Nike and Adidas own the biggest chunk of the tennis-wear market, many smaller manufacturers have introduced lines. Svetlana Kuznetsova had been sponsored by FILA for 10 years before taking time out to heal a bum shoulder. She returned to the tennis courts at this year’s Australian Open wearing new togs from Qiaodan Sports.
The last major of the year is a good time to show off. New Yorkers are great at that. Their bold behaviors, love of the good life and everything tennis makes for fertile grounds to unveil new tennis trends.
With their ever-pressing investors, Nike and Adidas, seem to be expanding the definition of what women should look at as a tennis outfit. It’s not just a top and skirt, or dress, but an ensemble that could, and should, incorporate additional pieces: a sports bra that can be seen through the pull-over top; sport shorts in rainbow colors and patterns; plus shoes to match.
Tennis players are smart people. And they shop for bargains. But if the main commodity in stores calls for a sports bra, then people will buy it. After all, it’s Nike. Nice way to change the court scenery, too.
The women on tour end up being models, of a sort. They are given their clothes and are expected to wear them. Only the top ranking players — Serena, Maria, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal — actually sit down with Nike designers and influence trends.
Next time you’re on court and wearing a brand-new dress from Nike, play like a pro. That’s what they do.