Wednesday 13 December 2017

A fashion match

Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova dazzle at the party.
Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova dazzle at the party.

Bairbre power

Pushing fashion boundaries is what it should be all about and, in the world of tennis, the players are as tactical with their sartorial statements as they are with their on-court playing style and after-hours frocks.

You have to love Venus Williams for breaking the rules. Her choice of a black-lace, red-trimmed, corset-style dress and skin-toned shorts gave the illusion that she was naked at the French Open. She was accused of mistaking Roland Garros for the Moulin Rouge.

However, these fashion hic-cups and her fondness for flesh-toned shorts don't happen by accident. Venus studied fashion design in Florida and brings a sassy glamour to the centre court like her younger sister, Serena, who was charming and very chatty when I met her at Sony Ericsson's glitzy, pre-Wimbledon party in London.

Serena's glamorous diamond-encrusted shoes stood out in a roomful of stars. "They are Zanotti, Giuseppe Zanotti," she revealed, flashing a giant smile after looking down at her sparkling footwear the room was talking about. "I love shoes. The higher, the better," said Serena, who is fighting back to reclaim her number-one world ranking.

Serena was happy to chat about her extremely slim-fitting, black mini-dress, which really accentuated her muscles and curves. No surprise to hear that it came from her own label, which is called Aneres -- her name spelt backwards. Be sure to check out

"I was born to be a designer. I worked hard to be a tennis player; I don't work hard to be a designer," says Serena, who also has an accessories line and is launching another project next year on a shopping channel.

And finally to Maria Sharapova, whose fashion modus operandi is mini dresses that showcase her impossibly long legs. In London, the 2004 Wimbledon champion says she shops at Topshop. At the glam party at the Roof Gardens in Kensington, she towered over me -- well, she is 6ft 2in, and was wearing four-inch heels -- as she told me she was wearing a Chloé cream dress, before changing into a bronze, sequinned number.

Clearly, she has a keen eye for line and if she wasn't a pro-tennis player, she would love a career in architecture or fashion.

While Maria designs a range of ballerina flats for Cole Haan, she wears towering heels herself and was cute as she told of how shocked and flattered she was to find a Japanese girl in Paris wearing her designs. "I could have hugged her," Maria said.

Irish Independent

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