Venus likes trend; father calls it a disgrace
Posted by WTAFANS TEAM
By Gene Frenette
Times-Union sports writer
While many WTA players make a conscious effort to dress the part on and off the court, few can match Venus Williams' level of interest in fashion styles.
She has had her own clothing line. She also studies books on fashion while on tour and recently did a thesis on the 1950s trends in that industry for the fashion school she attends in South Florida.
Williams is a notorious shopaholic and brags that the most popular room in her house is her closet.
"I like to look good and I got everything I need in my closet," Venus said. "People see my house and say it's nice. They see the closet and they don't want to leave. ... People are trying to steal my key pieces, especially Serena."
She laughs at that thought, but fashion is no joke to the world's No.2-ranked player. It's one of her main interests.
"Whatever I wear, I want it to represent me well, my family, my beliefs, my religion [Jehovah's Witness]," Williams said.
Not that Williams hasn't pushed the envelope herself on occasion. In the early rounds of the 2001 Australian Open, she appeared in a two-piece Reebok outfit that caught everyone's attention because the top was a bit revealing.
"The top was sort of creeping up and she was pulling it down after every point," said WTA Tour supervisor Pam Whytcross, whose job is to enforce the player code of conduct, including regulations on clothing for matches. "She obviously wasn't comfortable and I think she got out the needle and thread and sewed it together a little better [for her next match]."
The WTA rulebook specifies that a player "shall wear appropriate and clean tennis attire and shall not wear sweatshirts, sweat pants, tee shirts, jeans, or cut-offs during matches." A player may be asked to change if the referee deems it necessary, but Whytcross said she couldn't recall one instance of that happening in her 13 years as a tour official.
"Clothing manufacturers are making the clothes skimpier and skin tight," said Whytcross, a native Australian who played on tour from 1973-86. "Obviously, if something is too revealing, we might say, 'Hey, this is not really sports attire.'''
Venus Williams believes the tennis attire on tour isn't overly provocative and stays within the bounds of good taste.
"Very few people go too far and those who do are probably in Hollywood," Venus said. "Everyone on tour is pretty much in check, looking good."
Richard Williams, Venus' father, who claims he knew nothing about Venus' clothing problem at the 2001 Australian Open because he didn't go and never heard about it, says he's bothered by the bolder look in women's tennis.
"Today, women don't have to hold back, they're cutting loose and letting loose," Richard said. "I do think it's sort of disgraceful that women have to have some type of sexual appearance to play sports versus their [male] counterparts.
"I think the clothes today are too short. I think the girls have been pressured to do some of the things they're doing with these clothes. Sometimes I think Venus and Serena's outfits are too short, to be honest with you. If our future [in tennis] is going to be with the kids coming behind Venus and Serena, we need to represent ourselves a little different, hopefully. I think the dresses should be longer."