Reading the catsuit: Serena Williams and the production of blackness at the 2002 U.S. open

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During the 2002 U.S. Open, Serena Williams received a great deal of attention for wearing an outfit described as "a body-clinging, faux leather, black cat-suit." It was not necessarily the catsuit itself that the popular media found especially controversial but rather the visibility of her physique the outfit provided. The ways in which Serena Williams, the outfit, and her body were discussed offers a particular site at which to interrogate the production of blackness in 21st-century, U.S. society. This article argues that the processes of differentiation the popular media used to characterize her are located within racialized discourse. By representing Williams through oppositional rhetorics, that is, setting her multiple identities in contradistinction to other women on the tour, accounts concerning her appearance in the catsuit reproduce the hegemonic racialized order in women's tennis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)338-357
Number of pages20
JournalJournal of Sport and Social Issues
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 1 2005


All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Sociology and Political Science

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