They always say fashion is a way of self-expression and calls for creative thinking, which is why 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams became synonymous not because of her powerful brand of tennis, but also her unique custom-made Nike kits.
But for all the ostentatious outfits that Serena has worn throughout her illustrious career, none of them generated as much social media buzz and attracted controversy as the infamous bodysuit she donned at the clay Slam five years ago.
Playing in her first Grand Slam tournament since giving birth to her first daughter Olympia, Serena turned heads when she trudged to the court to play her opening match of the tournament against Kristyna Pliskova, wearing a full bodysuit meant to inspire women and pregnant mothers.
Unfortunately for Serena, her tournament was brought to a halt due to a pectoral injury, and she withdrew from a scheduled box-office matchup against Maria Sharapova in the fourth round about an hour before kick-off.
A few months later, the French Tennis Federation banned Serena's bodysuit and similar outfits from future editions of the French Open. The president at the time, Bernard Giudicelli, made a provocative statement about the outfit and came under heavy criticism.
"I believe we have sometimes gone too far. Serena’s outfit this year, for example, would no longer be accepted. You have to respect the game and the place."
Aside from fashion motives, Williams had suffered from life-threatening blood clots during pregnancy and the Wakanda-inspired bodysuit was meant to help with seamless blood circulation while on the court playing, as she would clarify in one of her press conferences.
Ironically, five years later, the outfit is now a symbol of inspiration and memorabilia within a museum in Paris. The signed bodysuit was featured in a Fashion and Sports expo at Musée des Arts décoratifs.