Serena Williams won twice at the French Open on Monday: Her first-round match, and the prize for most stylish fashion statement.
Williams, 37, entered Court Philippe-Chatrier at Roland Garros to take on 83rd-ranked Vitalia Diatchenko wearing tennis’s version of haute couture.
Designed by Nike and Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton’s menswear collection, her black-and-white jacket featured four French words: Mere, championne, reine, deesse.
Translated, her outfit said: Mother, champion, queen, goddess.
“Those are things that mean a lot to me and reminders for me and for everyone that wants to wear it,” said Williams.
“Just remind everyone that they can be champions and are queens. So I love that about it.
“It is a lot to carry, but so is being Serena Williams.”
She wore a black top under the jacket and a striped crop top under that, with fishnet detailing attaching it to a wrap-look skirt.
But while Williams’ self-proclamations were full of confidence, her game was initially less so.
The 23-time grand slam champion got off to a shaky start before claiming a 2-6 6-1 6-0 victory over Diatchenko.
Seeded 10th, Williams blasted a stack of unforced errors in a scratchy opening set before finding her range in windy and cold conditions.
She’ll face either Japan’s Kurumi Nara or Slovenian Dalila Jakupovic in the second round.
“I’m just happy to win today,” Williams said after the match, which was her 800th tour-level victory.
The three-time French Open champ is hoping to emulate Australia’s Margaret Court, who won 24 majors in the amateur and professional eras.
She hasn’t won a major since she beat sister Venus in the Australian Open final in 2017.
Williams’ on-court outfit was a pared-down version of the one she premiered on Instagram on Sunday for her 11 million followers before the Open kicked off.
Her husband, Reddit founder Alex Ohanian, gave a one-word response: “Damn”.
View this post on Instagram
A post shared by Serena Williams (@serenawilliams) on
A year ago she caused a stir at the French Open when her black catsuit ‘super hero’ – which she said was worn as a compression garment to prevent blood clots – was banned.
French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli said Williams went “too far” with the catsuit, which would not be accepted again at the tournament.
In other Roland Garros results, Caroline Wozniacki was the third former world No.1 to lose in the first round of the women’s singles.
The Danish 13th seed lost to unseeded Russian Veronika Kudermetova 6-0 3-6 3-6.
Venus Williams and Angelique Kerber also both lost on day one.
On the other side of the ledger, Sam Stosur joined Ash Barty, Alexei Popyrin and Alex de Minaur as the fourth Australian through to the second round.
Playing on her favourite surface, former French finalist Stosur beat Czechoslovakian Barbora Strycova 6-2, 7-6 (7/3).
The 35-year-old face Russian Ekaterina Alexandrova in the second round as she aims to reach at least the third round at Roland Garros for the 11th straight year.
“Maybe Roland Garros brings out the best of me,” Stosur said.
“It’s not something you know is going to happen, but it proves that prior results don’t mean that the first round (of a grand slam) is going to be an exit.”