Fashion police on alert at Australian Open
Nude underwear and black knee-socks have led a parade of women's fashion disasters at the Australian Open, in a welcome distraction from some humdrum tennis.
Fashion police were alerted when aspiring designer Venus Williams took the court in her "Alice in Wonderland" creation, a yellow criss-cross number showing large amounts of flesh.
The ensemble was completed with a tiny patterned skirt and Venus's famous "nude" shorts, which give the impression she has forgotten to put on knickers.
"The outfit is inspired by Alice in Wonderland. Don't laugh," she said, to guffaws. "It's kind of about a surprise, because when Alice goes down the hole, the rabbit hole, she finds all these things that are so surprising."
Fellow competitors were certainly taken aback, and did not temper their comments about the unusual attire, which one wag said looked like a garden trellis.
"It looks a little uncomfortable," said Russia's Nadia Petrova. "I hope she doesn't have a tan like a chess board afterwards."
However Petrova could hardly talk after appearing in a frilly purple and blue outfit which she frankly admitted was not really her.
"It wasn't my design... it doesn't really flatter my physique," she told the Herald-Sun newspaper. "I think that outfit would look cute on someone like Maria Kirilenko, who's a little bit smaller and has this really petite figure."
Williams also caught the eye in a shimmering blue dress in her opening match, and a black studded number with a barely visible skirt in her brief appearance in the third round, before pulling out injured.
"It's all about the dress because it has a mesh and a satin kind of material," she enthused about the blue dress.
"Of course, it's all sports gear, and it's all about that zipper, too. A lot of the focus of the dress is the zipper. So, of course, always I have fun designing my dresses."
World number one Caroline Wozniacki has looked below-par in a pleated dress over red pants, and French Open champion Francesca Schiavone did herself no favours with one that ties across her chest, topped with a Tarzan headband.
Meanwhile American Bethanie Mattek-Sands burnished her reputation for trashy on-court attire with some unfetching black knee-socks and tiger-striped top.
Kim Clijsters managed a classier look with a simple green dress that drew on past outfits worn by Australian great Evonne Goolagong Cawley.
Williams has stolen the show in the absence of sister Serena, whose outrageous outfits have included black leather jackets and knee-high boots, and a constantly evolving hairdo.
"I think maybe we're confused on our identity, because we can't keep one hairstyle for more than a few months," Venus said. "But life is fun when you can change it up and have fun with it."
The oddball fashions have provided excellent cover for some poor performances with a number of former women's number ones, including Ana Ivanovic, Dinara Safina and Jelena Jankovic, crashing in the early rounds.
Williams and Justine Henin are also out, but both are suffering from injury.
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