Virgil Abloh Brought Creative High Fashion To Tennis

Virgil Abloh (photo: Myles Kalus Anak Jihem, Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0)

WASHINGTON, December 1, 2021 (by Michael Dickens)

American fashion designer Virgil Abloh, who died on Sunday of a rare cardiac cancer at age 41, will be remembered for bringing earnest and creative high fashion to tennis through his designs worn in recent years by 23-time Grand Slam champion Serena Williams. It was as exciting as it was different.

As the founder of luxury fashion label Off-White, the barrier-breaking Black designer Abloh worked closely with Williams and Nike to customize a look for her. As New York Times fashion editor Vanessa Friedman wrote, “for him, clothes were totems of identity.”

Nike remembered Abloh in a social media post, saying: “He was a creative force who shared a passion for challenging the status quo, pushing forward a new vision while inspiring multiple generations along the way.”

Abloh produced several statement outfits which Williams wore during various Grand Slam events. One need only look back to her one-shouldered dress with a full tulle skirt, which was meant to emulate a ballerina’s outfit, that she debuted during the 2018 US Open. It was designed by Abloh for Williams as part of her comeback look – and it was a head turner. It came about after her iconic black and red catsuit designed by Abloh was banned by the French Tennis Federation at Roland Garros.


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“You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers,” said Nike in response to Federation president Bernard Giudicelli’s declaration that “one must respect the game and the place.”


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In a November 2020 interview with British Vogue, Abloh said of his association with Williams: “Designing her look for the US Open was a career highlight for me, by far. Black figures bringing our talents to a world stage showcasing our art forms is essential now more than ever.” He went on to express that working with Williams was trouble-free. “She comes to the table with an idea in mind, so our conversations are fast,” he said.


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Further, Abloh said, Williams “has no fear. … She has opinions, and she is a thought leader, not just a tennis player. She is a role model for millions. By existing, she shatters many stereotypes, and she has earned the right to be celebrated for her on and off the court achievements.”

Williams wrote on her Instagram page: “Words cannot express the sorrow I feel on the passing of my friend @virgilabloh. I will forever be grateful to have had the opportunity to witness such greatness, such genius and to feel the warmth of his smile. It was my honor to stand next to him. He lit up every room he walked into. May his beloved family and friends find comfort in knowing how profoundly his art impacted our culture, and us all. I will miss you.”


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Orange County Breakers win World TeamTennis title

The Orange County Breakers won the King Trophy for the third time in franchise history and first time since 2017 after defeating the Springfield Lasers 21-13 in the 2021 WTT Finals Presented by Guaranted Rate on Sunday at the Indian Wells Tennis Garden in Indian Wells, Calif.

Winning team members included: Steve Johnson, Amanda Anisimova, Tatjana Maria, Desirae Krawczyk, Austin Krajicek and Nate Lammons. The Breakers were coached by Rick Leach.

Johnson was named most valuable player for the 2021 season. He won 60 games in men’s singles (57 percent winning percentage) and 55 games in men’s doubles (52 percent winning percentage).

“Quotable …” from the Davis Cup

“Every time he plays here in Madrid, he gives his best. He’s super focused, controlling his emotions. He doesn’t complain at all. He was playing well, giving his best at every point.”

– World No. 5 Andrey Rublev of Russia on World No. 112 Feliciano Lopez of Spain, separated in ranking by 102 places and in age by 16 years.

“The fact of being here competing for me was already a prize. Finding myself in the situation I was in today, playing against the No. 5 ion the world in Madrid in front of 10,000 people, being able to compete with him, was already a gift. Imagine winning, what it means. Possible, for all the special things that this match had, at the time it came to me, it will surely be one of the most important matches of my life, but it was not enough to qualify and that is what hurts me the most, and what really matters in the end.”

Feliciano Lopez of Spain, after defeating Andrey Rublev of Russia, 2-6, 6-3, 6-4, Sunday during group play in Madrid.

“People were going crazy. People were really into it. For me, I mean, I don’t mike like, as long as there are people in the stadium, whether cheering for me or not cheering for me. Usually, when I’m playing well, I can get the crowd relatively even. Usually like to enjoy what I’m doing out there, but as long as there are people in there, if they cheering against me, that’s totally fine.

“I just like an atmosphere. I feel like that’s what it’s about. You work so hard to play in front of people and show people what you can do. Whether they are for me or not, I just like to be in an atmosphere, if I can play, I can enjoy. I really want to compete.”

Frances Tiafoe of the United States, describing the atmosphere inside the Pala Alpitour in Turin, Italy, for his match against Nicola Mejia of Columbia, which he won 4-6, 7-3, 7-6 (7).

What they’re sharing on social media

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