Serena Williams’ Catsuit and #BlackMommaMagic

Serena in catsuit at French Open, May 2018
By si.robi (Williams S. RG18 (17)) [CC BY-SA 2.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons

In “Serena Williams’ Catsuit and #BlackMommaMagic: Speaking Back Through Fashion,” published today in Dismantle, Sarah Rebolloso McCullough brings a feminist sports studies lens to recent controversies surrounding Serena Williams’ tennis attire, and situates them in a historical context that dates back centuries.

While Serena has rapidly returned to form after surviving life-threatening complications in the birthing of her child, the racism and sexism directed at her by the tennis establishment and mainstream media have been unrelenting, as seen in the official banning of her medically functional catsuit following her victory in the French Open, and more recently in the debacle that unfolded in the finals of the U.S. Open.

She dons the catsuit to remake her body into a site of power and agency, and through it, other Black female bodies who have been told they are too much and not deserving of full humanity.

McCullough discusses how, throughout all of this, Serena has demanded inclusion and asserted agency through a love of fashion that speaks volumes on and off the court in ways that she herself is not permitted.  Read the article here.

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