'On-Court Runway' Takes Tennis Spotlight

"It's like, you just never know what's going to happen," Williams said. "I love [fashion], don't get me wrong. I love designing. I love wearing things that I sat down and had a part of and came up with the concepts for. It's exciting. But, you know, it's hard. It's a hard business to be in."

Williams has received criticism, however, for her tennis fashion, including a black cat suit she wore to the 2002 U.S. Open Grand Slam.

Mason called the skintight outfit "absurd."

The knee-high leather boots Williams debuted at the U.S. Open 2004 also took a beating from critics.

Bethanie Mattek offered some unique competition this year, when she paired her now-trademark tube socks with skimpy brown shorts and a batwing top.

Williams called Mattek's outfit "really interesting."

"Tennis has allowed women in the beginning of the 20th century to express their liberty," author Poirier said, pointing out Suzanne Lenglen's daring debut of a short dress at Wimbledon in 1920.

Tennis fashion has made its rounds among the men as well.

"Compare Jimmy Connors in his short shorts and fitted shirt with Federer in his oversized polos and baggy shorts," she said. "Totally opposite!"

Custom Made

With scores of individual accessories available, wristbands, headbands, compression shorts and rhinestones have become an integral component of tennis fashion.

"Accessories have changed a lot with the evolution of materials and textiles," said Poirier, a fashion designer for 25 years.

"Items are lighter and more breathable. Shoes are more colorful, and accessories now allow more personal style and expression."

So, what's up for next season? Mason predicts camouflage.

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