Serena Williams’ Hot Pink Bodysuit is Genius Branding. She is Tennis’ Must-See

Serena Williams

From my column in Sporting News

One step onto the practice court Tuesday, and Serena Williams went viral again. People were so happy to see her playing tennis after a year of injury and sickness? Hah! It was the bright pink body suit. Did you see it? It was outrageous. It was incredible. It was genius. Williams is a brand all to herself.

Two days earlier, Tiger Woods, whose name, and brand, had turned to mud, made a run to the lead at the Masters, and everyone went nuts. He was back! The red shirt. The killer attitude. The fun. Forgive and forget what? Who could remember? He didn’t win. And here’s a question for you: What is the name of the guy who did?

Come on, I’m waiting. It was only two days ago. I’ll spot you his first name: Charl.

Schwartzel. That’s the last name. And when Tiger won the Masters the first time years ago, Tigermania was set off. Don’t wait for Schwartzelmania.

What we’ve seen in the past few days is a prime example of our celebrity culture, yes. But that culture seems to be on steroids now, partly because of the immediacy of modern media. If you want to be an athlete who transcends your sport, you’d better be ready for the world of Twitter and iPhone cameras. On top of that, everything is calculated now for the brand. It’s the TMZing of American sports.

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About gregcouch

I can talk tennis all day long, and often do. And yet some of the people I talk to about it might rather I talk about something else. Or with someone else. That’s how it is with tennis, right? Sort of an addiction. Sort of a high. I am a national columnist at and a FoxSports1 TV insider, and have been a columnist at the Chicago Sun-Times. In 2010, I was the only American sports writer to cover the full two weeks of all four majors, and also to cover each of the U.S. Masters series events. I’ve seen a lot of tennis, talked with a lot of players, coaches, agents. I watched from a few rows behind the line judge as Serena rolled her foot onto the baseline for the footfault, a good call, at the 2009 U.S. Open. I sat forever watching a John Isner marathon, leaving for Wimbledon village to watch an England World Cup soccer game at a pub and then returning for hours of Isner, sitting a few feet from his wrecked coach. I got to see Novak Djokovic and Robin Soderling joke around on a practice court on the middle Sunday at Wimbledon, placing a small wager on a tiebreaker. Djokovic won, and Soderling pulled a bill out of his wallet, crumpled it into his fist and threw it at Djokovic, who unwadded it, kissed it, and told me, “My work is done here.’’ And when Rafael Nadal won the French Open in 2010, I finished my column, walked back out onto the court, and filled an empty tic tac container with the red clay. I’m looking at it right now. Well, I don’t always see the game the same way others do. I can be hard on tennis, particularly on the characters in suits running it. Tennis has no less scandal and dirt than any other game. Yet somehow, it seems to be covered up, usually from an incredible web of conflicts of interest. I promise to always tell the truth as I see it. Of course, I would appreciate it if you’d let me know when I’m wrong. I love sports arguments and hope to be in a few of them with you here. Personal info: One-handed backhand, serve-and-volleyer. View all posts by gregcouch

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