When Japan's world No. 1, Naomi Osaka, takes the court to defend her title in New York, she’ll do so as the first athlete to wear exclusive NikeCourt x sacai performance apparel.
The Japanese fashion label, led by Chitose Abe, specializes in crafting arresting silhouettes through experiments in hybridity. Osaka’s outfit is no exception. Most evident: The doubled skirt adds depth and dimension to a tennis standard. More covert: The ensemble is formed with an eye to bridging tennis’ athletic present with its past traditions. From a distance, the two-piece outfit appears to be a dress; at closer glance, one sees an elegant articulation of a contemporary bodysuit.
Osaka’s look is fitting for the year’s final major. At the end of each summer the sporting world turns attention to Flushing, Queens for a major cemented as tennis’ premier convention-challenging event. It has, during the decades, affirmed the unique synergy of athleticism and style in tennis. Here, the drama of sport is matched by the vibrancy of costumes — performance apparel designed to ace individual play and character, while stimulating collective consciousness.
Flushing is tennis’ de facto runway. Its center court style has been defined by Nike’s progressive approach — a legacy of irreverent reimagining of the sport’s standards that has welcomed denim, gladiator boots, tie-dye and high-fashion collaborations with each successive generation of athlete. In turn, those athletes (the likes of McEnroe, Agassi, Williams and Stephens) have energized up-and-coming challengers and established designers alike.
In more ways than one, the hardcourts of Queens connect generations and show us how sport changes everything.
At an individual level, participation in sport instills confidence. Participation in sport promotes healthier and happier lives. It changes people, helping them to form a base from which to strive toward all goals.
At a collective level, passion for sport has the capacity to both inspire movement and encourage creativity. To that end, and as prelude to the tournament, the "Queens of the Future" pop-up experience gathered local New Yorkers and 12 of the best professional players for a new twist on a classic tennis training game. The celebration of the sport featured Markéta Vondroušová, Elina Svitolina, Madison Keys, Caroline Garcia, Aryna Sabalenka, Petra Kvitová, Simona Halep, Maria Sharapova, Sloane Stephens, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams, who all wore Nike's latest sportswear and tennis apparel.