Tennis and fashion are a match in Paris Venus Williams of the U.S. returns the ball to Slovakia's Daniela Hantuchova during their match at the Sony Ericsson Open tennis tournament in 2010 (Reuters / AP photo)
Tennis and fashion are a match in Paris
Lexile

Well before Andre Agassi caused a stir with his stone-washed denim shorts at the French Open, the clay courts at Roland Garros in Paris were a sporting catwalk for fashion experimentation.

Tennis fashion has come a long way. There was the corset-less, flowing dress worn by "La Divine" Suzanne Lenglen and designed by French creator Jean Patou to the black-and-red outfit that Venus Williams wore and designed five years ago.

The tennis stadium located in the chic western district of the French capital has always been a fashion hotspot.

"Players want to show their personality through their clothes," former player Tatiana Golovin told The Associated Press. Now an exhibition is recounting the links between fashion and tennis at the Roland Garros museum.

The exhibit is called "Game, Set and Fashion." It has more than 60 pieces of women's and men's clothing on display. Some never have been shown before. There's also pictures, posters and a focus on the fashion designers who made tennis fashion.

There are dresses and shorts, some dating back to 1890. Also included are a lavish male tennis coat, autographed outfits by the likes of Steffi Graf and Williams and a collection of tennis shoes.

The 27-year-old Golovin was forced to end her playing career early because of back problems. Now she is the exhibition ambassador. She says she enjoyed wearing pretty clothes when she was on court. But she would not have sported Venus black-and-red outfit. It brought more attention than her play at the 2010 French Open.

"I was a pundit for TV at the time. I remember the dress well," Golovin said.

Golovin is a fan of the tennis fashion from the 1960s. During that period, British designer Ted Tinling created dresses with innovative shapes, frills and furbelows. A furbelow is a frill or pleated border on a skirt.

"The tennis fashion in the 60's was really audacious," Golovin said. "The dresses were already very short, there were lace shorts. There was elegance. But it was daring at the same time. Outfits are less feminine today, more sporty."

The French Open is due to start on Sunday, May 24.

Critical thinking challenge: Why would stone-washed denim shorts cause a stir?

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