Tennis is a sport with strict decorum: avoid cheering during a rally; do not applaud a double fault; keep your shirt on at all times. The strict rules also extend to the players, as a Japanese star Naomi Osaka learned this month when she was aggressively fined and threatened with sanctions for skipping out on a post-match press conference at the French Open. Packing up her bags at Roland-Garros, Osaka decided to “take some time away from the court” rather than suffer the humiliation of the arcane rules. Her decision to withdrawal launched a wider debate about mental health in the uptight world of Tennis.

Propriety debates in the genteel sport also have a long history of spilling over into fashion. From local clubs to Wimbledon, strict dress etiquette calls for Tennis whites. When players and designers dare shake up the norm, their choices turn heads. For this year’s edition of the French Open, FILA partnered with Italian label MSGM to produce a capsule collection that does exactly that. Known for its bold colors and eclectic graphics, MSGM infuses the collection with a certain retro irreverence that made FILA-sponsored players Karolina Pliskova, Sofia Kenin, Reilly Opelka, and Diego Schwartzman stand out on court in Paris.

While designing the collection of halter neck tops, mini skirts, shorts, polo shirts and t-shirts, MSGM Creative Director Massimo Giorgetti looked across the sport’s fashion archive for exactly this type of irreverence. “My main inspiration for the short skirts came from Lea Pericoli, the Italian tennis champion whose fashion choices on the court turned heads in the 1960s.” Working with designer Ted Tinling, Lea once famously turned up to her Wimbledon match in an eye-catching, fur-lined outfit. From the court-to-fashion rivalry between René Lacoste and Fred Perry, to the disco-inflected looks and rockstar hair of Bjorn Borg, drawing attention on the court has had its benefits despite the sport itself wanting to look away.

Ayman in the MSGM x FILA Capsule Collection

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