NEW YORK — Denim miniskirts, black boots, short metallic dresses and retro-inspired track suits might seem more suited for the juniors’ floor at Macy’s than the tennis court. But those are some of the looks that will be sported by tennis players next week at the U.S. Open, where the fashion quotient is kicking into ever higher gear.
The grand-slam tournament gets rolling on Monday at the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadows here and could provide a welcome fashion pick-me-up after the Olympics in Athens, where athletic costumes have generally been subdued and low-key. While some tennis championships such as Wimbledon have rigid dress codes, the Open has fewer restrictions, allowing competitors to flaunt their personal style on the court. Fittingly, the competition overlaps this year with New York Fashion Week, so it’s likely at least some competitors will hit a few runway shows while they’re in town and perhaps gather inspiration for upcoming court looks.
The Open competition this year is dominated by past women’s champions, including defending champion Justine Henin-Hardenne, who is the top-seeded player; Serena and Venus Williams; Amelie Mauresmo of France, and reigning Wimbledon champion Maria Sharapova of Russia. Other competitors include Lindsay Davenport and Jennifer Capriati, as well as Anastasia Myskina and Elena Dementieva of Russia.
A budding style icon to watch is Sharapova, the Nike-sponsored athlete who won Wimbledon and has professed a love of fashion. Sharapova is slated to wear a silver shiny tank dress featuring Nike’s Sphere technology, said Mindy Grossman, the company’s global vice president of apparel. The custom-made dress has mesh venting and panels and cooling factors.
But the biggest fashion moment in Queens will likely come from Nike endorser Serena Williams who, as reported Tuesday, plans to sport a performance stretch denim skirt and jacket with a lasered tank top with mesh and black slide-on boots she will wear over her custom-designed Shox sneakers prior to competition.
“This is an ultimate example of how you can combine style and personality for an athlete,” said Grossman, adding that the company worked closely with Williams to develop the look. “Denim is so much a part of her lifestyle and it’s also very American.”
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