Tennis: Zebras on the loose at French Open

Ana Ivanovic of Serbia sporting a shirt with black and white zebra stripes at the French Open on May 26, 2016.
Ana Ivanovic of Serbia sporting a shirt with black and white zebra stripes at the French Open on May 26, 2016. PHOTO: REUTERS
Dominic Thiem of Austria in a shirt with black and white zebra stripes at the French Open on May 26, 2016.
Dominic Thiem of Austria in a shirt with black and white zebra stripes at the French Open on May 26, 2016. PHOTO: EPA

PARIS (AFP) - There are zebras on the loose at the French Open giving a brash, new twist to Paris's enduring reputation as the fashion capital of the world.

Top players such as former champion Ana Ivanovic, 2014 runner-up Simona Halep and former Wimbledon finalist Tomas Berdych are all sporting shirts at Roland Garros with black and white zebra stripes.

Widely-panned as garish and vulgar on social media, the players insist that they are happy with the design, the brainchild of Adidas and longtime Japanese designer Yohji Yamamoto.

"The collection's eye-catching style is inspired by zebra print to evoke a feeling of movement and fluidity," gushed Adidas in their publicity material.

"This sporty chic collection takes its inspiration from haute couture and meets the strictest demands of sportsmen and women while cutting a striking dash. A real treat for the eye."

However, many are convinced it is a torture to the eye rather than a treat.

Brad Gilbert, a former Tour player, coach of Andre Agassi and now a respected television pundit, admitted he was a little puzzled by the look.

"What's up with so many players looking like FootLocker employees on safari? U digging the Zebra shirts?" tweeted the American.

But Ivanovic, the 2008 champion, said she had no problems with her outfit - the black-and-white template finished off with a personal flourish of faux red braces on the back.

"I actually really like it. The cut is beautiful in the dress, and I think it looks very feminine," said the Serb. "The design also supports my favourite club, Partizan Belgrade."

Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga added: "It's different, and, yeah, I enjoy it, actually. I know the opinions are split, but I'm for it."

Others at Roland Garros opting for the stripes were rising star Dominic Thiem and Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber. However, Kerber can now place hers at the back of the wardrobe after losing in the first round.