Yes to Roland Garros skeletons and zebra stripes, no to flowers

Paris (AFP) –


There's been a few skeletons, the odd zebra and tiger stripe at Roland Garros... and flowers.

Whatever you do, just don't ask Britain's Kyle Edmund about the flowers.

He is not a fan of the floral designs which adorned his shirt in his opening round match at the French Open.

"I wouldn't personally pick flowers if I had to do," said the straight-talking South African-born but Yorkshire-bred Englishman.

Edmund was referring to the flower-print design of the shirt given to him for Roland Garros by Nike.

"You get what you're given with Nike. So there's actually a story behind it rather than they just decide to come up with it. So there's a reason to do with the French Revolution, I was told.

"I'm sure if you said I would like to wear something else and I don't want to play in this, they would accommodate.

"But, you know, I've played in pink kits and bright yellow kits, so this one was not too bad."

There's big money in on-court tennis fashion and the four Grand Slam events are targeted battlegrounds.

Their significance was highlighted last summer when Roger Federer parted company with Nike after two decades, signing instead a $300 million deal with Japanese manufacturer Uniqlo.

It was a 10-year agreement, even though Federer was almost 37 when he penned the deal.

Canadian teen Bianca Andreescu, the shock champion in Indian Wells this year, admitted that the selection on offer was certainly striking.

She sports the skeleton option which shares fabric space with... geese.

"I mean, maybe they're running out of ideas, but I think it's something different. And I can't complain. I actually really like it," said the Canadian.

Nike also supplied Serena Williams's 'mother, champion, queen, goddess' cape which the American wore onto Court Philippe Chatrier on Monday.

Once she started playing, she revealed a two-piece black-and-white outfit, slit at one thigh.

The 23-time major winner also found herself defending her sponsors after the company said it would change its policy of cutting female athletes' pay during and after pregnancy.

"That's what it's about. It's about learning from mistakes and doing better," said the 37-year-old.

Abby Swancutt, the NikeCourt Global Design Director, explaining the classic 'toile' style on show in Paris, said: "We wanted to play off the history of the area in an unexpected way.

"We saw a big opportunity pairing a classic French motif within a traditional sport like tennis."

Australia's top player Ashleigh Barty said her black-and-white stripe outfit by Fila "pops".

"A lot of the girls are in black and in darker colours, and it always look good against the red clay."

"When I put it on, it's not as out there as I thought it would be. But I'm happy to wear whatever. It's comfortable, so I'm good to go."