The outfit was inspired by the late Florence Griffith-Joyner, the American sprinter who set improbable world records and later died aged 38.
Her best performances came in the era before widespread drug testing and have always been the subject of scrutiny.
Serena Williams made her entrance at Australian Open wearing a striking one-legged catsuit
Williams said the outfit was a tribute to the late Florence Griffith Joyner – known as Flo-Jo
Williams, who hammered Germany’s Laura Siegemund 6-1, 6-1, seemed unfazed. ‘I was inspired by FloJo, who was a wonderful track athlete, an amazing athlete when I was growing up,’ she said. ‘Her outfits were always amazing. The Nike team thought of this design of inspiration from FloJo. I was like, “Oh, this is so brilliant”.’
While there were few surprises on the first day, among those who lost were a number who had served an unexpected ‘hard’ quarantine on arrival, and who thought it affected their performance.
The likes of Germany’s 2018 Wimbledon champion Angelique Kerber and outspoken Frenchman Benoit Paire, who both went out, suffered from being on charter flights which saw a positive test for a fellow passenger.
They were then informed that they would not be allowed the five hours’ daily training window enjoyed by others. They suggested they might not have travelled had this possible outcome been spelled out more clearly.
She wore a black catsuit at the French Open in 2018 which prompted a ban on similar outfits
‘Their tournament in my opinion is sh***y’, said Paire. ‘I’m very disappointed by this event. I didn’t sign up for this. I signed for a protocol where I would be able to practise for 14 days. It’s not fair for everyone. It’s a scandal.’
Kerber was more restrained after a 6-0, 6-4 loss to American Bernarda Pera, but the sentiment was largely the same. ‘Of course I had not planned the two weeks hard quarantine,’ she said. ‘Maybe if I knew that before, to stay two weeks in hard quarantine without hitting a ball, I would have thought twice about coming.’
Nick Kyrgios was much happier after a comfortable first-round win, and celebrated with another wind-up of Novak Djokovic.
Former champion Angelique Kerber was the first seed to be knocked out in Melbourne
‘He’s a very strange cat, Novak,’ said the Australian when told Djokovic had admitted he had no respect for him. ‘Heck of a tennis player. But someone who is partying with your shirt off in a pandemic… I don’t think I can take any slack from that man.’
Britain’s Katie Boulter admitted to being ‘pretty upset’ after failing to capitalise on her excellent form of last week. Having entered through an injury exemption, the Leicestershire player was bamboozled by the unorthodox Russian Daria Kasatkina, losing 6-1, 6-4.
‘I’m pretty disappointed with today. I felt like I never got going. I felt quite uncomfortable out on the court,’ said Boulter.
Five more Brits are in action early on Tuesday morning, including Dan Evans against Cam Norrie.
Nick Kyrgios (left) took a shot back at Novak Djokovic (right, at Adria Tour event he organised last summer) and said he could not take slack ‘from someone partying in a pandemic’
Prior to the start of the Australian Open, Djokovic said that he does not respect Kyrgios