Venus Williams' 19th-century can-can dancer look. Illustration by: Leah Goren

Fashion is all about pushing the boundaries and thinking outside the box. Fashion Shakers is a series that is focused on the players that dare to paint the lines and go for style winners. Earlier, we looked back at Rafael Nadal's 2010 Roland Garros apparel.

Every time Venus Williams steps onto a Grand Slam court for the first time, spectators are eager to see what outfit she's wearing. Eleven years ago, on the terre battue at Roland Garros, Venus once again surprised the crowd when she unzipped her jacket to reveal an anything but ordinary on-court get up.

When the jacket came off, Venus wasn’t just a tennis player—she had the look of a 19th-century can-can dancer. Which is fitting, given that Stade de Roland Garros is just a few miles away from the most famous cabaret in Paris, Moulin Rouge.

As she slid into forehands and loaded her legs—flying up to smash serves, Venus also had the movement of an iconic Parisian dancer.


These days I have a lot of fun with my designs. Venus Williams, at the 2010 edition of Roland Garros

The black-and-red outfit mostly consisted of lace, with the upper half a tight corset and the bottom flaring out into a flowy tutu. Coffee-colored spandex, perfectly matching her skin-tone, rounded out the number This was no mistake, as Venus designed the Eleven by Venus dress herself, and every inch of this stunning dress was intentional.

Like some of her other outfits, the tennis world was quite critical over what was deemed “provocative” and “scandalous.” Even the Court Philippe Chatrier crowd cat-called and whistled at the major champion. Photographers were court-side clicking away, trying to get the perfect shot of her skin-tone spandex, but Venus didn’t mind—it was all part of an illusion in which she envisioned for the burlesque-styled dress.

"What's the point of wearing lace when there's just black under? The illusion of just having bare skin is definitely for me a lot more beautiful," Venus said to press in 2010.

Venus Williams serves at the 2010 edition of Roland Garros

Venus Williams serves at the 2010 edition of Roland Garros


This is what makes Venus a vital contributor to evolving and pushing the boundaries of tennis fashion. It’s never repetitive or stagnant; it’s consistently fresh, bold, and it tends to make major statements. Ranked No. 2 in the world at the time, she danced her way into the round of 16 the anything-but-boring attire. Fashion designers either loved it or hated it, but in the end, give Venus all the credit for pulling off such a daring dress.

"Lace should remain in the bedroom,” one student from the United States vacationing in Paris told press.

Like her on-court game, Venus isn’t afraid to take the risks. And if Venus wants to bring the bedroom to the main stage of her workplace, she doesn’t think twice.

“These days I have a lot of fun with my designs,” she said at the 2010 edition of Roland Garros.

Ten years later, and now 40, Venus is still turning heads and serving up memorable outfits. At this year's French Open, Venus opted for a clean all-white look—Wimbledon-esque, really—with a hint of sparkle that made it not quite so simple.

While she was eliminated in the first rounds of both singles and doubles, fans still witnessed Venus' passion for the game in Paris.

Venus would go on to write on Instagram, "Don’t look back look forward. There are great things ahead. Keep shining."

As long as she hits the court, this fashion shaker will undoubtedly sparkle and shine.