NEW YORK -- Serena Williams has defused a growing controversy over the "catsuit" she wore at the French Open in June, adding diplomatic skills to her rapidly growing resume as an athlete and role model.
"Everything's fine, guys," Williams said on Saturday morning at the US Open, explaining that she had already resolved the issue in a conversation with French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli. "He's been so easy to talk to. My whole team is basically French, so, yeah, we have a wonderful relationship. I'm sure we would come to an understanding and everything will be okay. Yeah, so it wouldn't be a big deal."
In an interview published recently in a French tennis magazine, the French official singled out the black figure-hugging catsuit that Williams wore as he revealed that the tournament would institute a dress code. "It will no longer be accepted," Giudicelli said of the catsuit. "I think sometimes we've gone too far. One must respect the game and place."
Commentators immediately accused Giudicelli of disrespecting Williams. After all, Williams had said that while the catsuit made her feel like a "queen from Wakanda," it also had an important health application, helping her control her circulation following a difficult childbirth last September.
The backlash continued into Saturday, with Hall of Famer Billie Jean King weighing in on Twitter.
The policing of women's bodies must end. The "respect" that's needed is for the exceptional talent @serenawilliams brings to the game. Criticizing what she wears to work is where the true disrespect lies. https://t.co/ioyP9VTCxM— Billie Jean King (@BillieJeanKing) August 25, 2018
Williams explained that the catsuit issue is moot anyway, as she has since found "other methods" for addressing her circulation concerns. For instance, at Wimbledon, she wore white compression leggings.
"I wear tights that keep everything going with my blood," Williams said.
She added, laughing: "When it comes to fashion, you don't want to be repeat offender."
The sartorial experiments are just another part of a life transformed for Williams.
"I feel like everything is just different, in terms of I'm living a different life, I'm playing the US Open as a mom," Williams said. "It's just new and it's fresh."
But she warned that the mellowing influence of motherhood only goes so far.
"If anything, I have more fire in my belly," she said. "It's very difficult to describe. I thought after having a child, I would be more relaxed. I think I've said this before, but I'm not. I work just as hard, if not harder, actually. I just feel like I take it just as serious, if not more. That's been really surprising for me."
The final Grand Slam event of the year begins Monday.