I did an informal poll among most of my male friends asking if the sight of Venus’ behind made them hot. To a man they answered, “No”. Some of them said this with a look close to disgust on their faces.
Most of my male friends immediately invoked a comparison with Serena; they said they find her sexy in a bootilicious kind of way. Others offered that they preferred the more seemingly delicate beauty of Ana Ivanovic. A good few said that they would sell their soul for an evening with Gisela Dulko, the Argentine beauty. But Venus? Meh.
And yet Venus has made a career of pushing the envelope when it comes to body-revealing fashion. If she isn‘t emphasizing her ta-tas, she’s showing us her back; if her back is covered up, she’s wearing lingerie. And this week in France she has elected to uncover all the bases.
Venus Williams seems to have a proclivity for exhibitionism on the tennis court. It’s a character feature that seems inconsistent with the otherwise conservative, buttoned-down, lips-sealed, Jehovah-praising demeanor for which she is characteristically known. Venus’ private life does not show up in the gossip magazines. She normally comes across as so close-lipped that her interviews can make for mind-numbingly uninformative reading.
But put her on a tennis court in a Slam and her inner exhibitionist will out. What are we to make of this? How to explain such a paradox?
Notice that I am putting aside the question of whether she even looks good. Beauty they say is in the eye of the beholder. And besides, Venus’ fans will defend her to the death, and will swear up and down that she is the most beautiful woman in tennis. And some might even mean it too.
Notice too that I am not addressing whether Venus’ gimmicks sell tennis clothes. I am confident that they do not. I do not believe that her lingerie get-up will be a big seller. Most of the female tennis players that I know tend to purchase tops that support their boobs and bottoms/skorts that can hold tennis balls. We don’t all have the privilege of playing in tournaments where ball boys and girls run down our balls and give us towels to wipe our faces in between holding large umbrellas over our heads. In the real world, tennis players do their own carrying and fetching, so impractical outfits like these will simply not sell, certainly not unless they are drastically altered. Ad trust me, Nike and every other brand is aware of this. Just check Tennis Warehouse or any other site that sells tennis clothes. It’s the pretty but practical outfits that fly off the rack.
So what exactly then is the point of Venus’ butt revelations? I have my own theory of course. My theory is that Venus is looking for her own Catsuit moment. I think that she won’t rest until she manages to upstage a Grand Slam the way Serena’s Catsuit obliterated all other events at the 2002 US Open.
Do you remember the Catsuit? Of course you do. I don’t know a man or woman who doesn’t. It became THE topic of conversation at the 2002 US Open. Ask anyone who played on the men’s side that year and they probably won’t have a clue. The Catsuit upstaged everything and everyone. It became THE topic of every talk show, every sports news report, every gossip site, every major magazine. People couldn’t get enough of it. Cartoonists made fun of it. My favorite photoshopped fakery involved Ice-Cube and Chris Tucker reeling back in pretend fright from the impressive sight of Serena’s ass in the Catsuit. Yes, 2002 will forever be known as the Year of the Catsuit.
Will 2010 be the Year of the Flesh-Colored Panties? Venus wore them in Australia and they attracted a rustling of attention. She’s worn them in France and the drum beat seems to be getting satisfyingly louder. I doubt that she will be allowed to wear them at Wimbledon, so their next unveiling should be at the US Open. She will not stop until we declare her the winner in her battle against the 2002 black faux-leather Catsuit. Or maybe I am making too much of the unconscious motives that sometimes fuel sibling rivalry?