Billie Jean King tweeted, "The policing of women’s bodies must end," in response to the new French Open dress code.
Tennis legend and gender equality advocate Billie Jean King called out the French Open after it introduced a dress code that would prohibit Serena Williams from wearing the skin-tight black catsuit she wore at this year's tournament.
King tweeted, "The policing of women’s bodies must end. The “respect” that’s needed is for the exceptional talent @serenawilliams brings to the game. Criticizing what she wears to work is where the true disrespect lies."
The French Tennis Federation president, Bernard Giudicelli, said the tournament that Williams has won three times made the change to regulate players' uniforms because ''I think that sometimes we've gone too far.'' In an interview in Tennis Magazine's 500th edition, Giudicelli singled out the figure-hugging black suit that Williams wore this year at Roland Garros and said made her feel like a superhero.
Giudicelli said: ''It will no longer be accepted. One must respect the game and the place.''
Following the news, many tweeted in outrage, including Nike.
Just ridiculous. Serena has done nothing BUT respect the game. Serena Williams is almost always singled out in tennis. This comes down to what they feel is “acceptable” on a tennis court. It’s not her job to make you feel comfortable.— Taylor Rooks (@TaylorRooks) August 24, 2018
Also, the suit helps her combat blood clots. https://t.co/gR2XqJLi3j
I am asking my job for a week off so I can go fight the entire French Open— Dad (@fivefifths) August 24, 2018
Williams responded Saturday ahead of the U.S. Open, saying her relationship with the French Open is fine and she no longer needs to wear the catsuit because she found that compression tights also work to keep her blood circulating.
King won 39 Grand Slam titles, but has long been an advocate for gender equality. In 1973, she beat Bobby Riggs in the famous "Battle of the Sexes" match. King founded the Women's Tennis Association and the Women's Sports Foundation.
She's been awarded numerous honors for her achievements throughout her life.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.