Venus gets cheeky in Paris

Look. Venus Williams has never won a French Open. Let me repeat that. Venus Williams has never won a French Open. Venus Williams, one of the all-time tennis greats, has never won one. So if she thinks competing while wearing a Carmen Miranda cascade of fruit on her head might change her luck, so be it. Hey, she's an athlete. Athletes are like that.

However, she did not compete while wearing a Carmen Miranda cascade of fruit on her head the other day. She showed up at Roland Garros looking like she was eight years late for the Lady Marmalade video.

That's right.

Gitchy-gitchy ya-ya da-da.

Yeah, that one. Sing it with me, Missy: Christina. ... Pink. ... Lil' Kim. ... Maya.


The sporting world is agog. And I'm all for it. She's never won a French Open. But on Sunday, she crushed it. On clay. She was everywhere. On clay. If this is what she needs to feel comfortable and confident and strong and quick, on clay, so be it.

Pistol Pete wore floppy socks. Venus has this.

Look. It's tennis. Besides, it's Paris. Paris! Isn't this what all the young ladies are wearing on the streets of Paris?

And most of all, what are we talking about today? Tennis. Women's tennis. Quick, how many contemporary women's tennis players can you name? Well, there's Venus. Her sister, Serena, of course. There's that woman who was featured in SI last week. I remember it because the headline was a play on that TV show, "Old Christine."

Then there's Martina Navratilova. Martina Hingis. Martina McBride. Um ... Margaret Court.

OK, so it's been a while since women's tennis was big. So women's tennis, in 2010, needs something. It needs personality, and Venus has that.

Tennis at its apex is about rivalries. McEnroe and Borg. Martina vs. Chris. Billie Jean King vs. Bobby Riggs. Andre vs. Pete.

OK, so right now the biggest rivalry in the game might be Venus vs. her fashion sense. That's fine.

She'll get 'em talking.

And then maybe they'll stop and see how really great she is.

Venus has always been about fashion. She's never made any bones about it. That's what grabs her. That's what she wants to do with her life. Has having had outside interests hurt her career? Well, who really knows? But it's tough to argue with her resume. She's one of the all-time greats.

She is a Steffi or Chrissy or Billie.

But she's never won a French Open. Here she is in Paris. Paris! Where can one wear something like this if not Paris? There may be no better place for her worlds to collide.

LeBron has his headband. Tebow his eye black. She has this.

It's Venus. It's Paris. We're buzzing. She's winning. I hear Pink and Maya and Christina and Lil' Kim (and Missy) in my head.

And we're talking about women's tennis for the first time in forever. Well, sort of. Close enough.

She's crushing it.

Gitchy-gitchy ya-ya da-da.

I love the look.

(Note to my daughter, in the event you're somehow reading this in 13 years: Forget it.)

Said Williams, "The outfit was about illusion, and that's been a lot my motif this year, illusion."

OK, first. Venus, dear, I don't think there was a lot of illusion to that outfit. Malfunction, maybe. Careful, there, on some of those ground strokes.

But most important, she used the word motif! Motif! How can you not root for that? See, it's OK. It's part of a motif.

Now, obviously, we don't want the entire women's tour launching serves while dressed for a Victoria's Secret fashion show. That would definitely send the wrong message. That would not be good.

But somehow, Venus. In Paris. Who else could pull this off?

OK, maybe that was a bad choice of words.

But Venus Williams has never won a French Open. Repeat, she's never won one. But now we're buzzing about women's tennis, and you can hear the "Moulin Rouge" soundtrack pounding in your head.

So the biggest rivalry on tour is Venus vs. her fashion sense. Well, somehow this just fits (tightly) on an all-time great. We'll see which of them will win, in the end.

A champion's trophy would really finish off the motif.