Thursday, September 9, 2021

2021 US Open: Halep Outshines Competition in Nike's Gold&Blue NY Slam Dress, and Here's Why

SIMONA HALEP (5'6"/1.68 meters) of Romania has the winning slam dress look because it is on-point where it matters the most. Debuted look in first-round defeat of Camila Giorgi of Italy. Photo by Darren Carroll/USTA


your eyes have not deceived you. They are seeing double, triple, quadruple and more.

Yes, they have seen the same gold&blue tennis dress nearly every day of the 2021 US Open. On a different player. Many different players, from Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic to Amanda Anisimova of the United States.

The dress is a pandemic at this year's US Open and the vector is Nike.

That gold&blue number is called the Nike Fall NY Slam Dress. Besides binary blue and university gold, it comes in gorge green. The slam dress in the two color schemes is the lone style in dresses available to Nike-sponsored WTA players.

MARKETA VONDROUSOVA (5'8"/1.73 meters) of the Czech Republic looks good in the slam dress but could have benefited from a more supportive bra. Or should she stand up straighter? Debuted look in first-round defeat of Elena-Gabriela Ruse of Romania. Photo by Brad Penner/USTA

Does this uniformity — Nike is hardly alone (Adidas, among others) — signal the beginning of the end of the days when major players got the bespoke treatment and everybody else threw on whatever they could find? Let's hope not! At this year's open, Nike-sponsored Naomi Osaka of Japan may be one of a very few players who was presented with a tennis outfit, a gold dress designed especially for her.

This situation with the attire in a largely individual sport is yet another aspect of this year's tournament that may have Serena, Venus, Rafa and Roger shaking their head.

KATIE BOULTER (5'11"/1.80 meters) of the UK has perfect bra support and imperfect length in the slam dress. Debuted look in first-round loss to Liudmila Samsonova of Russia. Photo by Kathryn Riley/USTA

An attractive frock, the dress is a throwback look to the tennis fashions of the '80s. This is most apparent in its A-line shape and sleevelessness.

Obviously, the green is far more subtle than the gold&blue. Indeed, the latter catches the eye because of the bright, brash bold gold in its DNA. Much like New York. Seeing it over and over again, however, begs the question, "Who wore it best?"

PETRA KVITOVA (6'0"/1.83 meters) of the Czech Republic, like most of the really tall women, wants a smidgen more leg coverage in the slam dress. Debuted look in first-round defeat of Polona Hercog of Slovenia. Photo by Kathryn Riley/USTA

Before the answer is revealed, a few more remarks about the dress. It is no surprise that Nike constructed it with tennis players and court conditions in mind. For instance, an A-line shape ends with a flared skirt. This supports, rather than constricts movement, particularly running.

The dress is also constructed of a lightweight, breathable fabric, keeping sweating to a minimum on courts that can swelter.

AMANDA ANISIMOVA (5'11"/1.80 meters) of the United States would be en forme in the slam dress with more bra support and more length. Debuted look in first-round defeat of Zarina Diyas Kazakhatan. Photo by Garrett Ellwood/USTA

It has a crisscross bodice and empire waist. The latter detail is designed to minimize hips and tummy, plus maximize the breast. To really slay in an empire waist though, you need a killer bra that lifts the girls to high heaven.

Otherwise, it looks like you have no waist and your girls are down in the dumps. This has been an issue with most of the players who have sported the dress.

Because the navy band is positioned high on the waist, it is important to wear a bra with heavy support to prevent a sagging bustline that bleeds right into the band, choking off the waist and closing off what should be a sliver of gold directly beneath the breastbone and directly above the band. Virtually no one has pulled this off.

MARTA KOSTYUK (5'9"/1.75 meters) of the Ukraine is the 2nd runner up in the slam dress, with only a couple of inches or so holding her up. Debuted look in first-round loss to Maria Sakkari of Greece. Photo by Mike Lawrence/USTA

Another area of concern is the bunching at the waist, something the Nike designers should be able to easily fix. It could be using a less pliant lightweight fabric or using lycra/more lycra. OR specially fitting the dress to each player.

And oh, the length: It is too short on many of the players, looking more like a tunic. Most female tennis players are tall — at least around 5'8" (1.73 meters) and leggy. Again, an easy fix is customizing the dress to each player by adjusting leg exposure accordingly.

ANASTASIA POTAPOVA (5'9"/1.75 meters) of Russia comes up short just so length-wise in the slam dress. She also has more-than-normal bunching below the breast. Both easy fixes for that look of perfection. Debuted look in first-round loss to Jessica Pegula of the United States. Photo by Rhea Nall/USTA

Now, that ends the comment period. No one has looked hideous, but who has worn our gold&blue slam dress the best. Drum roll, please ... Simona Halep of Romania! (See video of her on Instagram:

She is wearing a better bra, which does the necessary lifting and separating. And the length is perfect. On Simona, who is the shortest of the group at 5'6" (1.68 meters), it looks like a rather fetching minidress.

BELINDA BENCIC (5'9"/1.75 meters) of Switzerland is the bronze winner and 1st runnerup in the slam dress stakes, wirh only razor-thin margins separating her from winner Simona Halep. Debuted look in first-round defeat of Arantxa Rus of the Netherlands. Photo by Garrett Ellwood/USTA

Congratulations, Simona, you've got the look!

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