Thursday, May 27, 2010

Venus’ panties vs. the Catsuit

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?


Kim at TennisFixation said...

I'm thinking about this because I've always thought the one great thing about the Williams sisters is that they're so good with each other. Totally supportive. Appear to love to play doubles together. Love to sit and watch the other play on if they're knocked out of a tournament. Although this has mainly been Venus' role in the past few years. Is this the only avenue of sibling rivalry they have left - who can come up with the tackier outfit? And Venus will win hands down because I think Serena has been looking pretty fabulous in her totally sellable-to-the-public Nike gear. If Venus is looking for a future as a fashion designer after her tennis career, I don't think this is the way to go about it.

happygeek said...

When I read your second-to-last blog (on Tweeting), I thought "What! No reference to Moulin Rouge?"

I understand why now. It was worth more than a comedic mention in a paragraph - it had to have it's own post! lol...

tennischick said...

I don't think Venus is a hooker even if she chooses to dress like one.

Karen said...

I do not know that she is trying to have her own Catsuit Moment. I think something happened to the dynamic between the Sisters and believe it or not I think it had to do with the US Open debacle. Since that time I have observed that Serena has become much more conservative both on and off the court. It is like she has retreated into a little hole and apart from the bathing suit shots during Miami she has maintained a relatively low profile. In her press conferences her responses to questions have been measured and while she is not revealing much in her pressers, you get the feeling that she is choosing her words carefully before responding. Her outfits since the USO have gone almost matronly and it is like she sees her role as more protecting Venus rather than the other way around. I have to say that I am not quite sure what all the fuss is about Venus' outfit. She is a young struggling designer trying to get her ideas out there and create a buzz. She is a public figure and she is trying to get people talking about her designs. Her clothes are designed for both on and off the court. Perhaps what she was wearing is not meant for on the court but I am from Jamaica and believe me a lot of young girls in Jamaica would wear that to the latest street dance. For what it is worth I think a lot of the revulsion stems from the fact that people just do not like seeing black people in various states of undress. There was nothing wrong with the outfit and I think a lot of the commentary have to do with people's deep seated resentment of Venus rather than the outfit.

Finally, as to beauty, it is always in the eyes of the beholder. A woman playing tennis in 90 degree heat, sweating and looking less than perfect is not going to make any man stop and look again, but of all the pictures of the so-called beauties of the women's tour that I have seen Venus is one of the few who does not have to be photo shopped to within an inch of her life to look good. At almost 30 years old she has no cellulite, has a fantastic body and is still competing in a sport with players much younger.

Sexy Lingerie said...

Williams’s outfit attracted a great deal of speculation on the internet, with dozens of fans asking her via the Twitter social networking site if she had ‘gone commando’ – or worn no underwear – on court. Williams recently completed a fashion degree while on tour, and has launched her own clothing line called EleVen and interior design company, VStarr.

wholesale clothing said...

Venus William's outfit at the Australian Open last January is a good example. Now, she's been called the Lady Gaga of tennis because of her flesh-coloured underwear. I don't think she made a bold fashion statement either.