Serena Williams Pays Homage To Black History With Incredible Australian Open Catsuit Outfit

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Serena Williams

Serena Williams is regarded as one of the best tennis players of our time. But, she’s also been recognized as having some of the best tennis outfits of all time as well.

And her choice of apparel at the Australian Open was no different.

The legendary athlete and fashion designer of her self-titled clothing collection stepped out onto the tennis court in Melbourne wearing a stylish one-piece catsuit — a fashion statement that honors the last remaining weeks of Black History Month.

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The asymmetrically red and black catsuit, with one leg length higher than the other, is a subtle nod towards Florence Griffith Joyner, also known as Flo-Jo, a Black female American track and field athlete who is considered the fastest woman of all time.

Flo-Jo often competed in the signature one-leg catsuits, which Serena Williams made her own on the court of the Australian Open. In a post-match press conference, Williams explained that the Nike-designed look was meant to pay homage to Flo-Jo, who passed away in 1998. 

“I was inspired by Flo-Jo, who was a wonderful track athlete, amazing athlete when I was growing up,” Williams said. “Well, watching her fashion just always changing, her outfits were always amazing. The Nike team actually thought of this design off inspiration from Flo-Jo. I was like, ‘Oh my God, this is so brilliant.’”

From one signature Black female icon to another, it was definitely a heartwarming tribute to see — especially during Black History Month. 

And health coach Dr. Sy Powell agrees. 

"Let’s applaud Serena Williams for channeling Flo-Jo. Wearing that one-legged catsuit in the Australian Open was like watching the Lioness of tennis salute the Cheetah of woman’s track. She has become one of the many iconic Black trailblazers who have left their mark on American sports," Powell said. "Black History Month permeates our minds and hearts every day, not just for one month, as we strive to overcome challenges and obstacles along our way. Serena lost this one, yet she has always exemplified the standards of integrity and pertinacity for women of color."

The moment was made even better because Williams was competing against Naomi Osaka.

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Osaka is a Black and Japanese tennis player, who managed to beat Williams at their match, ending Williams's almost unbeatable streak.

Osaka has also been a proud advocate for Black people, often appearing on courts for matches within the last few months with a different Black Lives Matter facemask paying homage to a different Black person murdered by police.

From George Floyd, Elijah McClain, Breonna Taylor, and Ahmad Arbery, Osaka has made bold statements that show her support for the BLM movement, which makes her win against Williams that much more historic and memorable.

Many Serena Williams fans were disappointed by the defeat, but Osaka isn’t Williams' rival — but her legacy.

As a Black woman, being able to watch two strong and dominant Black female athletes score medal after medal is inspiring. Both Osaka and Williams have broken barriers and proven that Black women can hold spaces and be successful in whatever endeavor they choose to do.

Here’s to hoping that we are able to see more successful Black female athletes — and more successful Black women in general.

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Nia Tipton is a writer living in Chicago. She covers pop culture, social justice issues, and trending topics. Follow her on Instagram.