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Serena Williams Says She Regrets Turning Down Virgil Abloh's Original Outfit Idea for French Open

People logo People 7/1/2022 Anna Lazarus Caplan

Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty © Provided by People Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty

Serena Williams is still mourning the loss of friend and fashion powerhouse Virgil Abloh –– and the opportunity to have worn one of his most daring designs.

The tennis superstar tells Vogue in a film tribute for the late designer that she regrets turning down the initial envelope-pushing look he designed for her to wear at the 2019 French Open.

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"I still kind of regret not doing what Virgil told me to do," Williams says in the video. "He wanted me to wear this long skirt with the crazy train, and then a cape with a train, and then just walk out on the court. And I'm thinking, 'Virgil, I like fashion, and I like pushing the envelope, but this — I just don't think I can do this.'"

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One year after wearing the viral black Nike catsuit (which was later banned from the tournament), Williams opted to sport an Abloh-designed matching crop top, tennis skirt and printed-cape jacket inscribed with the French words for mother, champion, queen and goddess.


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But when she saw Abloh soon after the 2019 Open, she made sure to tell the designer that she had made a mistake.

"I just wasn't brave enough to go out there in all the red clay, and just walk out in this train, of like, a Met Gala at the French Open," she recalls.

Victor Boyko/Getty © Provided by People Victor Boyko/Getty

In February, four months after the Off-White designer's death at age 41 from cancer, Williams joined Naomi Campbell, Cindy Crawford, Amber Valletta and Helena Christensen to walk the runway in the designer's honor at Paris Fashion Week.

RELATED: Serena Williams Makes a Statement with Empowering Attire for Her Return to the French Open

Williams fondness for Abloh –– and his designs –– dates back to 2018 when they first collaborated in an Abloh x Nike collection devoted to the 23-time Grand Slam winner, and at the 2019 Met Gala, Williams wore a pair of Abloh-designed Air Force 1s.

At the time of his death last November, the Grand Slam superstar shared a moving tribute to the late fashion force on Instagram.

"Words cannot express the sorrow I feel on the passing of my friend @virgilabloh," she began. "I will forever be grateful to have had the opportunity to witness such greatness, such genius and to feel the warmth of his smile. It was my honor to stand next to him. He lit up every room he walked into. May his beloved family and friends find comfort in knowing how profoundly his art impacted our culture, and us all. I will miss you."

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