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Serena Williams responds to controversy surrounding the French Open's recent outfit ban.

Serena Williams downplayed the row over the banning of her French Open catsuit.

The 23-time grand slam singles champion caused a stir by wearing the striking black outfit in Paris earlier this summer but French Tennis Federation president Bernard Giudicelli told Tennis magazine this week it would not be deemed acceptable at future tournaments.

“It will no longer be accepted. One must respect the game and the place,” he said.

The stance has been heavily criticised, particularly given Williams wore the catsuit partly to help prevent the potentially fatal blood clots to which she is prone.

But the 36-year-old was not in the mood to stoke any fires, saying at her pre-US Open press conference: “I think that obviously the grand slams have a right to do what they want to do.

“I feel like if they know that some things are for health reasons, then there’s no way that they wouldn’t be OK with it.

“The president of the French federation, he’s been really amazing. He’s been so easy to talk to. My whole team is basically French, so we have a wonderful relationship. We talked yesterday. Everything’s fine guys.”

Williams joked that she would not want to wear the catsuit again anyway, saying: “I’ve since found other methods, and when it comes to fashion you don’t want to be a repeat offender.”

Williams wore skin-colour tights at Wimbledon and in her subsequent matches.

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The six-time champion is back at Flushing Meadows for the first time since a semi-final defeat by Karolina Pliskova in 2016 as she prepares for her third grand slam tournament since the birth of daughter Olympia.

Olympia turns one on September 1 but there will be no conflict between tennis and a birthday party because, as a Jehovah’s Witness, Williams does not celebrate birthdays.

And a year on, the new mother is still finding her feet back on court.

A stunning run to the Wimbledon final lifted her ranking back into the top 30 – her seeding was bumped up to 17 by the US Open – but since then she has won only one of three matches.

The first of those brought the worst result of her professional career as she only won a single game against Johanna Konta in San Jose, although she subsequently revealed she learned just before the match that the killer of her half-sister had been freed from jail.

Williams admitted she is trying to be more patient with herself as she attempts to return to top form.

“I’ve been saying (this is the week) to myself every week,” she said.

“It hasn’t quite happened. It’s been just really a few months into me playing after having a baby.

“I feel like I have to be nice to myself. I feel like I have to just be happy, continue to work hard. I’ve been working incredibly hard. I feel like it will for sure pay off eventually.”

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