Fans Hit Out Over Serena's 'Superhero' Catsuit Ban At French Open

Williams has laughed off the ban but others have called it racist, sexist and ignorant.

Fans of Serena Williams have reacted angrily to news the tennis great will not be permitted to wear her figure-hugging "catsuit" at the French Open next year.

French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli singled out the stunning black and red outfit worn by Williams in an interview with a French tennis magazine, saying under the tournament's new dress code, "it will no longer be accepted".

When Williams wore the skin-tight catsuit in her opening match at Roland Garros this year she said it made her feel like "a warrior" and "a queen from Wakanda".

Serena Williams wearing the catsuit at the Roland Garros Tournament in Paris, France, on June 2, 2018. Image: Getty.

She also dedicated it to new mothers, explaining that it helped her control her circulation and prevent blood clots following a difficult childbirth last September.

“All the mums out there that had a tough pregnancy ... have to come back and try to be fierce, in (the) middle of everything,” Williams said at the time.

"I feel like a superhero when I wear it."

But according to Giudicelli the suit is just not tennis-appropriate: "I think sometimes we've gone too far. One must respect the game and place."

His comments have drawn criticism from fans of tennis and Serena, who have labelled them sexist, racist and ignorant.

Former world No. 1 Billie Jean King called it disrespectful.

"The policing of women's bodies must end," she tweeted.

"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."

Pictures emerged on social media comparing the cover-all catsuit with bare cheeks under short skirts.

Others noted the bodysuit was not an issue when it was worn by a white player, Anne White at the US Open in 1985, for non-medical reasons.

Long-time sponsor, shoe giant Nike, stuck up for Williams in a Friday night tweet.

“You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers,” it read.

However Williams told a press conference at the U.S. Open on Saturday she didn't have a problem with the ban and had spoken to Giudicelli about it.

"Everything's fine, guys. When it comes to fashion you don't want to be a repeat offender," she joked.

The new uniform rules have not been officially released, but Giudicelli said they wouldn’t be as restrictive as Wimbledon’s all-white policy.

The 2019 French Open will be held in May, and the French Tennis Federation will be asking manufacturers for an advanced look at uniforms beforehand.

Williams wasn't perturbed about the wardrobe change, saying she’s found compression shorts are equally effective at keeping her blood circulating while on the court.