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Wednesday, Nov 20, 2019

Williams sisters back at the top in Open fashion stakes

After stunning the tennis world with their dramatic on-court comebacks last year, the Williams sisters are now dominating the fashion stakes at this year's Australian Open.

sports Updated: Jan 17, 2008 16:10 IST
Neil Sands
Neil Sands

After stunning the tennis world with their dramatic on-court comebacks last year, the Williams sisters are now dominating the fashion stakes at this year's Australian Open.

Venus has set tongues wagging with her hip-hugging "short shorts", while sister Serena's pre-tournament appearance in a bikini bearing the slogan "It's all about me!" succinctly summarised the defending champion's attitude.

The pair have also broken out the bling for their matches at Melbourne Park, playing in huge diamond-encrusted earrings that have local television commentators wondering how their lobes can bear the weight.

"They don't annoy me, the only thing that annoys me is when I miss," Wimbledon champion Venus said when asked if they were a distraction.

Venus earned an associate degree in fashion design last month and is sporting her own fashion line "eleVen" at the tournament.

Her ultra-tight shorts prompted an appreciative assessment of her behind from Australian television commentator Roger Rasheed, sparking a flood of complaints from viewers.

Venus was unfazed by the attention, saying she was happy it was her rear-end receiving the attention rather than her sister's.

"I think Serena is the Williams sister that is famous for her derriere ... she's renowned. So I guess I'm getting one up on her," she joked.

Russian Maria Sharapova set the tournament alight in 2006 with her blue baby-doll nightie but is wearing a simple white dress this year, reflecting her no-nonsense attitude as she sets out to make amends for last year's humiliating loss to Serena in the final.

But her father Yuri made a fashion faux pas watching the fifth seed beat Lindsay Davenport on Wednesday night, scowling from beneath a hooded camouflage anorak as he barked court-side encouragement to his daughter.

"I told him 'you look like an assassin with that jacket on," Sharapova said.

"He (said) he has a cold so he had to put the hood on tonight," she added, describing the jacket as "unfortunate".

Some of the contenders wear their best outfits off the court, including third seed Jalena Jankovic who plays in a demure pink shift but draped herself over a Lambourghini in a black micro-mini at the players' pre-tournament party. Serb Ana Ivanovic is Sharapova's heir apparent as the tour's glamour queen but may have miscalculated when she kitted herself out in a blue number that matched the colour of the new Plexicushion courts used this year.

Even the normally conservative world number one and top seed Justine Henin has allowed herself a stylish flourish this year, wearing a white top with lines of figure-enhancing beading on the torso.

France's Aravane Rezai made a splash out of proportion to her world number 69 ranking, appearing in a gold and maroon striped top with floral detail that wouldn't have looked out of place decorating a table at a Turkish restaurant.

The sartorial statements at this year's Open have not just come from the women.

Men's world number one Roger Federer has adopted an all-black outfit for his night matches, making him resemble a cross between a cat burglar and the original "man in black", country singer Johnny Cash.

But the last word on tennis fashion must go to Australia's Casey Dellacqua, who had no sponsor before the event and had to buy her own sportswear, only to find herself inundated with outfits from a major multi-national after two wins.

The 22-year-old had some handy tips for bargain-hunting tennis aficionados that the likes of Sharapova could do well to follow.

"My favourite shop has always been Target," she said.

"I like their tank tops and they're comfy to practice in. Usually you can get deals for, like, three for 30 bucks or something."