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Commentary: Venus’ Secret? Corset on the court

By// Jerry Bembry

The corset that she wore — black lace with a red trim and red shoulder straps — hugged her long, shapely body in all the right places. She moved across the floor with a sense of grace, ease and purpose. The sweat that glistened on her body was sensual and every now and then the bottom of the corset would lift up, revealing curves that would weaken a man’s knees.

Had Venus Williams been gripping a stripper pole while wearing that outfit, I might have gone all Pacman Jones on her and made it rain. But the fact that she was wearing that during her opening round match of the French Open had me thinking “WTF!” I enjoyed the outfit, no doubt. I’m a fan of everything that the Williams’ sisters wear (or don’t wear).

The photographers seemed to enjoy the outfit as well, judging all the interesting angles that produced pictures that might not pass the decency test at work.

But is it really appropriate for our women to get their bedroom wardrobe tips from what someone is wearing on the tennis court?

It wasn’t just the lingerie look that put the outfit Venus wore over the top. It was also the sheer, flesh colored shorts she wore underneath which — when the corset lifted — everyone was thinking, “Is she, or isn’t she?”

In Venus and Serena Williams, you have the two most accomplished African-American women tennis players in history. And with those accomplishments comes responsibility to the thousands of young African-American girls who want to emulate all that the sisters do.

I admire that the William sisters have interests that extend beyond the boundaries of the tennis courts, and that Venus, outside of the game, has become an accomplished interior decorator and fashion designer.

Yet in an era where too many women gain acclaim with little talent other than showing their (often silicone ejected) buttocks, I really don’t see what purpose it serves to have our talented sisters out there unnecessarily showing their (naturally and perfectly shaped) behinds.

Venus says that her look is about “creating an illusion,” but her outfit on Sunday left little to the imagination. If her opening round outfit served simply as a tease (she brings multiple outfits to tournaments) then television ratings will likely soar as she advances through the French Open.

I know I’ll be tuning in with increased interest.

But to be honest, Venus, you had me with your tennis.

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Jerry Bembry is a writer and video producer. His 2007 ESPN.com profile on former NBA star Jalen Rose was named the nation’s best basketball feature by the Professional Basketball Writers Association.