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French Open Fashion Shakers: Pierce finds peace on the terre battue
The Frenchwoman's 2000 Nike dress might seem simple, but it tells a thousand stories.
Published Jun 12, 2021
For years Mary Pierce was overwhelmed by the pressure to win, and was held to a high standard ever since she first picked up a racquet. This could perhaps explain the short temperament that often saw her unravel on the court. From a father that mistreated her to the pressure to live up to expectations, she found more anguish than joy on the court.
But that all changed on the terre battue in 2000…
WATCH: Pierce looks back at her 2000 Roland Garros run.
With a twist on the classic little black dress, Pierce first took down three-time champion Monica Seles before pulling off a major upset against then-world No. 1 and doubles partner Martina Hingis in the semifinals. From there, she defeated Conchita Martínez in straight sets and made history in a dress that accurately reflected the player she had become.
Hoisting the Coupe Suzanne Lenglen to become France's first woman to win Roland Garros since Françoise Durr in 1967, she couldn't wipe the genuine smile off her face. She stood tall in the mostly solid black NikeCourt dress—which seemingly represented the years of hardship and her dark past with her abusive father. The somberness of having to place a restraining order on her father and the fear caving in almost overtook her, but a glimpse of hope, love and passion for the game always remained. The white stripe can be seen as that flash of hope and a symbol of her finding salvation in God after converting to Christianity just before winning the clay-court major.
The power of prayer burned through the pressure, disappointment and rage she endured for much of her career and lead her to the victory she always dreamt of on the red clay.
“My perspective on tennis and why I was playing completely changed – I wanted to do it for him, for the Lord, and I wanted to do everything that I did to the best of my ability, just to glorify me because of the gift that he gave me,” Pierce told CNN in 2015.
A dress may seem simple, but sometimes the wearer's story gives it deeper meaning, and this was undoubtably the case for the 2000 Roland Garros champion. The white and black colorblock dress may be an overlooked on-court outfit, but what style enthusiasts need to note is the body that carried it.
With the weight of the world on her shoulders during her history-making run in France, she found solitude amidst the noise, and because of it ended her tennis story much better than how it started.