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Serena Williams Catsuit, Naomi Osaka, Meghan McCain: Broadsheet for August 26th

August 27, 2018, 9:02 AM UTC

Good morning, Broadsheet readers! We meet a blossoming tennis star, female candidates try to tame the trolls, and Serena Williams’s catsuit is unsuitable—at least in France. Have a magnificent Monday.


 Unsuitable. The U.S. Open tennis tournament is just getting underway (more on that below), but the president of the French Tennis Federation was the one making news this weekend.

In a magazine interview, Bernard Giudicelli announced that the French Open would be instituting a dress code next year. He specifically cited the catsuit that star Serena Williams wore at this year's tournament as an example of on-the-court attire gone too far.

"It will no longer be accepted," he said. "One must respect the game and the place."

Williams's black full-legged one-piece outfit garnered plenty of attention when she wore it onto Roland Garros's clay courts in May; it was a stark contrast to the short skirts so many female players don. At the time, Williams, playing in her first Grand Slam since having a baby, said the catsuit made her feel like "a warrior princess ... from Wakanda, maybe," referencing the movie Black Panther. "I've always wanted to be a superhero, and it's kind of my way of being a superhero."

But it also served a practical purpose, she said. By fostering blood circulation, it helped address the problems she's had with blood clots. She famously suffered blood clots in her lungs shortly after giving birth and nearly died from the incident.

It may come as no surprise, then, that the announced ban of Williams's catsuit was met with some rage.

“The policing of women’s bodies must end,” tennis legend Billie Jean King said on Twitter. "The 'respect' that’s needed is for the exceptional talent ⁦@serenawilliams⁩ brings to the game. Criticizing what she wears to work is where the true disrespect lies."

Billie Jean's right: the ban is reminiscent of other efforts by men to impose seemingly arbitrary wardrobe rules for women who are simply trying to do their jobs. Take, for instance, the since-modified dress code that forced women to wear sleeves and closed-toed shoes in an area of the U.S. Capitol. Women are already over-scrutinized for their fashion choices; presenting new hoops for them to jump through just adds to the burden.

Criticism of the catsuit ban was not limited to female players. Former pro Andy Roddick said the new rule was “so dumb and shortsighted it hurts.”

Interestingly enough, Williams herself didn't join in the backlash. When asked about the ban at the U.S. Open, she cited her "wonderful relationship" with Giudicelli and said she'd found other ways of protecting against blood clots.

She won't be wearing the catsuit at this week's Grand Slam. “When it comes to fashion, you don’t want to be a repeat offender,” she said.

Nike, Williams's sponsor and maker of the catsuit, had perhaps the best comeback: "You can take the superhero out of her costume, but you can never take away her superpowers."

Williams remains on a quest for her first Grand Slam title since her maternity leave. She plays her first U.S. Open match today.


 98 years young. Happy birthday to the 19th Amendment—one day late. Sunday marked Women's Equality Day, or the anniversary of women winning the right to vote. The amendment was adopted on Aug. 26, 1920. A holiday celebrating its spirit came decades later in 1971, when Congress, led by Rep. Bella Abzug (D-N.Y.), chose to mark the occasion each year. Fortune

 Upheaval Down Under. The political turmoil in Australia, which saw the nation get its sixth prime minister in ten years last week, has prompted a reshuffle of its top female ministers. Julie Bishop, who served as Australia's foreign minister for five years, has resigned after failing to ascend to the premiership herself. New PM Scott Morrison has named former defense minister Marise Payne as Bishop's replacement. Financial Times

 At home. The British government this weekend announced that England will allow women to legally take an abortion pill at home for the first time. Scotland and Wales already allow the practice. Currently, women who want to terminate a pregnancy in the first 10 weeks have to take two pills at a clinic, 24 to 48 hours apart, an approach the government says “can be difficult to organize and often uncomfortable or traumatic.”  Guardian

Acting on it. Last week, Sen. Kamala Harris (D–Cali.) and 13 other Democratic senators introduced a bill called the Maternal Care Access and Reducing Emergencies Act, which would fund two new grant programs aimed at reducing African American mothers' disproportionate rate of death and serious pregnancy complications.  Mother Jones

MOVERS AND SHAKERS: Sarah O’Brien, Tesla VP of communications, is leaving the company after nearly two years. Jemele Hill, the ESPN sportscaster who sparred with President Donald Trump, is reportedly leaving the network at the end of this week.


 Taming the trolls. The record number of women running for office this election cycle are confronting an ugly side of campaigning while female: harassment, in person and online, and often of a sexual nature. "[T]hey are finding that harassment and threats, already common for women, can be amplified in political races—especially if the candidate is a member of a minority group," reports the NYT in an article that, I'll warn you, is often difficult to read. New York Times

 Bad timingA Washington woman named Kameisha Denton went viral last week after she told a Seattle TV station that she was fired via text message for taking maternity leave at a time her boss deemed inconvenient. "It’s not a good time for us to have someone who is leaving for maternity leave," the text message said. Apparently, the boss didn't know it's illegal to use pregnancy as a basis to refuse to “hire or promote, terminate, or demote, a woman” in the state. The manager has since resigned and Denton has received several new job offers. Fortune

An Open mind. As the U.S. Open gets underway, keep an eye on Naomi Osaka. The 20-year-old is the youngest woman in the world's Top 20 and Japan's highest-ranked female player in more than a decade. But there's more to her story. As the NYT explains, with a Japanese mom and a Haitian-born dad, "Osaka challenges assumptions about whether and under what circumstances a biracial person might be accepted as truly Japanese." New York Times

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Stop telling women how they should talk  Mashable

The forgotten female scientist who taught India how to forecast weather  Quartz

Why married women are using two last names on Facebook  The Atlantic

What it’s really like to be black and work in fashion  The Cut


We know that his flame lives on, in each of us.
Meghan McCain, on the death of her father Sen. John McCain