MELBOURNE • Serena Williams yesterday said she was trying to bring pop culture to the tennis courts with the self-designed canary-yellow crop-top outfit she is wearing at the Australian Open.
The American, who takes her design work seriously, has frequently made statements with her choice of clothing at Major tournaments.
Last year at Melbourne Park, she sported a green and pink number with a distinctive cut-out back, which she said sent a feminist message that "you can be beautiful and powerful at the same time".
In previous years, she has had fun with moon boots and leopard-skin prints. This time, she has opted for a yellow pleated skirt and matching crop top that shows off her pierced navel.
"It was definitely my design, something I actually sketched, you know. So I just wanted to think outside of the box," said the 34-year-old, who has a custom-designed Nike apparel line.
DAY 5 RESULTS
Men's 3rd rd (selected): Tomas Berdych (Cze) bt Nick Kyrgios (Aus) 6-3 6-4 1-6 6-4, Roberto Bautista (Esp) bt Marin Cilic (Cro) 6-4 7-6 (7-5) 7-5 Novak Djokovic (Srb) bt Andreas Seppi (Ita) 6-1 7-5 7-6 (8-6), Gilles Simon (Fra) bt Federico Delbonis (Arg) 6-3 6-2 6-1, Roger Federer (Sui) bt Grigor Dimitrov (Bul) 6-4 3-6 6-1 6-4, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga (Fra) bt Pierre-Hugues Herbert (Fra) 6-4 7-6 (9-7) 7-6(7-4), David Goffin (Bel) bt Dominic Thiem (Aut) 6-1 3-6 7-6 (7-2) 7-5, Kei Nishikori (Jpn) bt Guillermo Garcia-Lopez (Esp) 7-5 2-6 6-3 6-4.
Women's 3rd rd (selected): Carla Suarez Navarro (Esp) bt Elizaveta Kulichkova (Rus) 6-4 2-0 (retired), Daria Gavrilova (Aus) bt Kristina Mladenovic (Fra) 6-4 4-6 11-9, Serena Williams (USA, above) bt Darya Kasatkina (Rus) 6-1 6-1, Margarita Gasparyan (Rus) bt Yulia Putintseva (Kaz) 6-3 6-4, Agnieszka Radwanska (Pol) bt Monica Puig (Pue) 6-4 6-0, Anna-Lena Friedsam (Ger) bt Roberta Vinci (Ita) 0-6 6-4 6-4, Maria Sharapova (Rus) bt Lauren Davis (USA) 6-1 6-7 (5-7) 6-0, Belinda Bencic (Sui) bt Kateryna Bondarenko (Ukr) 4-6 6-2 6-4.
"I've been on tour for a long time. I've been wearing so many different designs. I just wanted to push the envelope again, just bring pop culture to tennis, kind of make it really fun."
Off court, Williams has her own clothing line, Aneres, and a successful collection of handbags and jewellery. But she is even better at her day job.
The six-time Melbourne Park winner and defending champion easily outmuscled the young Russian Daria Kasatkina 6-1, 6-1 on Rod Laver Arena in just 44 minutes yesterday, the shortest match of the tournament so far.
Despite her impressive performance, the 21-time Major champion said she could be better.
"I never think I'm playing fantastic... I'm always very hard on myself," she said. "I always feel like there's room for improvement."