Black women have contributed immensely to the world of tennis. Their winning and losing moments reflect their resilience and their ability to challenge other people’s narratives about them both on and off the court. As the U.S. Open starts today, we thought about the players who have inspired girls with a dream just like theirs—players who have beat so many odds against them from racism, sexism, and misogynoir. In honor of the U.S. Open’s start, we wanted to show how these women’s distinct looks on the court have been markers of time.
Venus and Serena Williams, pioneers in both tennis and fashion, have consistently redefined on-court style. In the early 2000s, Venus made headlines with her daring outfits, from sleek, revealing dresses to bold patterns while her sister Serena’s iconic black catsuit at the 2002 U.S. Open shook the tennis fashion landscape. Serena’s 2018 French Open ensemble was another pivotal moment. Her choice of a black catsuit with compression tights was not only fashionable but also served as a statement of resilience following her post-pregnancy health struggles. It challenged the very white and conservative norms surrounding tennis attire.
In recent years, Naomi Osaka has continued this legacy. She’s used her platform to showcase her Japanese and Haitian heritage through her fashion choices. Collaborating with various designers, Osaka’s court ‘fits often incorporate vibrant colors, cultural symbols, and thoughtful details that celebrate her identity.
Coco Gauff, a rising tennis star, has also showcased her distinctive personal style on the court through various memorable moments. Gauff’s 2022 U.S. Open outfit was an eye-catching ensemble. She donned a vibrant orange ombre outfit with a metal skirt, exuding her youthful energy and confidence. The design and bold color choice encapsulated her dynamic on-court presence, making a notable statement at the tournament.
We had to show you these incredible on-court looks in honor of these women’s achievements below.
Zina Garrison At The 1988 US Open Tennis Championship
Zina Garrison of the United States serves to Gabriela Sabatini during their Women’s Singles Semi-Final match of the US Open Tennis Championship on 8 September 1988 at the USTA National Tennis Center in the Flushing neighbourhood of Queens in New York, United States. (Photo by Mike Powell/Allsport/Getty Images)
Serena And Venus Williams At The 1999 Australian Open
25 Jan 1999: Venus and Serena Williams in action during the Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Australia. Mandatory Credit: Jack Atley /Allsport
Serena Williams At The 2002 US Open
Serena Williams of the US waves to the gallery after her win over Dinara Safina of Russia at the US Open Tennis Tournament 28 August, 2002 in Flushing Meadows, NY. Williams won 6-0, 6-1. AFP PHOTO/TIM CLARY (Photo by Timothy A. CLARY / AFP) (Photo by TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP via Getty Images)
Venus Williams At The 2005 Wimbledon Championships
LONDON – JUNE 27: Venus Williams of USA celebrates winning at match point against Jill Craybas of USA during the seventh day of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championship on June 27, 2005 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club in London. (Photo by Phil Cole/Getty Images)
Naomi Osaka At The 2015 Toray Pan-Pacific Open Tennis
TOKYO, JAPAN – SEPTEMBER 21: Naomi Osaka of Japan in action during the women’s singles match against Barbora Strycova of Czech Republic during day one of the Toray Pan Pacific Open at Ariake Colosseum on September 21, 2015 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by Koki Nagahama/Getty Images)
Venus Williams At The 2017 US Open Tennis Championships
NEW YORK, NY – SEPTEMBER 05: Venus Williams of the United States reacts after defeating Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic during her Women’s Singles Quarterfinal match on Day Nine of the 2017 US Open at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 5, 2017 in the Flushing neighborhood of the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Matthew Stockman/Getty Images)
Serena Williams At The 2018 US Open
2018 US Open Tennis Tournament- Day Seven. Serena Williams of the United States in action against Kaia Kanepi of Estonia in the Women’s Singles round four match on Arthur Ashe Stadium at the 2018 US Open Tennis Tournament at the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on September 2nd, 2018 in Flushing, Queens, New York City. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Serena Williams At The 2018 French Open
PARIS, FRANCE – JUNE 3: Serena Williams of USA during Day 8 of the 2018 French Open at Roland Garros stadium on June 3, 2018 in Paris, France. (Photo by Jean Catuffe/Getty Images)
Serena Williams At The 2019 US Open
Tennis: US Open: USA Serena Williams in action vs Croatia Petra Martic during Women’s 4th Round match at BJK National Tennis Center.
Flushing, NY 9/1/2019
CREDIT: Simon Bruty (Photo by Simon Bruty /Sports Illustrated/Getty Images)
(Set Number: X162854 TK3 )
Coco Gauff At The 2020 French Open
PARIS, FRANCE – SEPTEMBER 30: Coco Gauff of the United States looks frustrated during her match against Martina Trevisan of Italy in the second round of the women’s singles at Roland Garros on September 30, 2020 in Paris, France. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)
Coco Gauff At The 2022 French Open Tennis
PARIS, FRANCE JUNE 4. Coco Gauff of the United States in action against Iga Swiatek of Poland during the Singles Final for Women on Court Philippe Chatrier at the 2022 French Open Tennis Tournament at Roland Garros on June 4th 2022 in Paris, France. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)
Coco Gauff At The 2022 Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic
SAN JOSE, CALIFORNIA – AUGUST 04: Coco Gauff reacts to defeating Naomi Osaka of Japan during the Mubadala Silicon Valley Classic, part of the Hologic WTA Tour, at Spartan Tennis Complex on August 04, 2022 in San Jose, California. (Photo by Carmen Mandato/Getty Images)