A day after appearing in perhaps the most revealing outfit ever to adorn a Grand Slam centre court, Venus Williams opted for a big cover-up Wednesday. The U.S. Open and Wimbledon champion, appearing in a first round doubles match with sister Serena, selected a cropped version of a classic white tennis shirt, teamed with an equally simple royal blue skirt. The ensemble could not have been further removed from the precariously low-cut two-piece top she sported in her singles first round tie on Tuesday. That particular outfit, which looks certain to be sent back to the designer’s drawing board, ensured pictures of Venus’s cleavage were splashed across almost every Australian newspaper on Wednesday. Only the austere Financial Review felt able to resist as columnists had a field day describing how Venus spent most of her first match tugging at the top and apparently worrying about spilling out of it. As former player Pam Shriver put it: “Every time Venus tossed up to serve I was thinking: “Oh no, they won’t fall out, will they?”
Melbourne’s Herald Sun daily said Venus’s complicated strappy top had made it hard to tell if it was a “too-tiny bra or a two-tone slash fronted top.” Alan Atwood, from the Melbourne Age, said the outfit looked “as if the moths had got to it.” “Looks like she bought a bikini for Barbie and hung half around her own neck.” Even Williams’ compatriot Lindsay Davenport, normally the soul of discretion, admitted the outfit had been “a little bizarre to play tennis in.” “She seemed like she was always trying to pull it up. It didn’t look too tennis player-friendly.” Williams herself appeared bemused by all the fuss. “I was under the impression were were here to talk about doubles,” was her testy response to questions on the subject. Despite her reservations about Venus’s outfit, Davenport said she welcomed the increasing focus on what the women players wear. “I think that the tennis clothing companies are trying to get more bold in what they’re producing and what they’re getting the girls to wear. I think that’s great. “Some maybe go really far with it and extreme. That’s probably to get some recognition and attention for the company.” Davenport made her own foray into the style wars on Wednesday with a shocking pink skirt with what was, apparently, a Pucci-influenced print. As one uncharitable observer pointed out, that meant it looked like it had been cut from a 1970’s shower curtain. Incidentally, the Williams sisters won their match, effortlessly overcoming Canada’s Renata Kolbovic and Nirupama Vaidyanathan of India 6-1, 6-3.