MELBOURNE, Australia – Serena Williams' latest on-court fashion statement is an attempt to "push the envelope" with a nod to classic tennis style.
So says Williams, the No. 1-ranked player who is baring her midriff and naval ring at this year's Australian Open.
Williams designed the bright yellow outfit that features a T-shirt top snugly cropped and a pleated mini-skirt.
"I just wanted to think outside the box," said Williams, who has never been called a fashion conformist. Some of her eye-catching tennis wear has included a faux leather black catsuit, studded hot pants, a denim mini-skirt with knee-high black socks and a variety of animal prints.
"I've been on tour for a long time," said the 34-year-old Williams, who is appearing in her 62nd Grand Slam. "I just wanted to push the envelope again, just bring pop culture to tennis, kind of make it really fun."
The six-time Australian Open champion and winner of 21 majors won her first Grand Slam in 1999 at the U.S. Open, just a couple years after her latest opponent was born. Williams wasted no time Friday, beating 18-year-old Daria Kastkina 6-1, 6-1 in 45 minutes, and maybe the outfit helped.
After the match, she was asked if she was chilly.
"It's definitely not built for warmth, but it's built for speed," Williams joked on center court.
When the subject cropped up again in her post-match news conference, she explained the idea was to marry the "youth and fun-ness" of the pop culture world with tradition.
"I wanted a pleated skirt, because a pleated skirt is very classic," she said.
Aside from that, Williams just loves short shirts.
"I live in a crop top, sleep in crop tops. I'm often never seen without one," Williams said. "So I thought, you know, it would be really fun to play in one."