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Maria Sharapova's Stunning, Swarovski Crystal-Studded U.S. Open Look

Maria Sharapova's Stunning, Swarovski Crystal-Studded U.S. Open Look

I'm so Team Maria that even had she not won last night - in a nail-biter of an opening-round match against Simona Halep that had all the high-stakes sizzle of a final - I would've written about her incredible togs anyway.

I've embedded a pre-match pic of the look at the bottom of this post, which I nabbed from this great U.S. Open fashion roundup on the WTA website.

But although you can't see the details of her gorgeous frock above, I couldn't resist using an in-action shot of Maria from last night, just as she clinched her hard-fought victory.

Yes, she's a Fashion Girl. But she's a champion first and foremost, with five Grand Slams under her belt. Gotta honor that by showing her doing her thing.

Back to clothes...

Ever since I wrote this piece for The Wall Street Journal about the history + exact rules and regs of "Wimbledon Whites," I've been obsessed with which players get to go rogue with the mandated look of the season and wear a customized look. 

In other words, if a major apparel sponsor (i.e., Nike or Adidas) has a huge roster of players they're dressing for a Slam, how far up the food chain do you have to be to not look like everyone else?

Because let's face it: some seasons are horrible (cough cough...Nike's zebra stripes in 2016).

If you're a top-ranked player, can you Just Not Do It?

In my opinion, the snappiest women's dressers - and I'm only talking about on-court - are Sharapova, Caroline Wozniacki and Garbine Muguruza. Those three always look super-polished + elegant, even when they're fighting for their proverbial lives out there.

OMG - those black Adidas skirts Woz and Mugu wore in Toronto a few weeks ago? I die.

Last night, Chris Evert, who basically wrote the book on looking incredible while competing, said she could tell Sharapova meant business from her outfit alone. You don't trot out the lace and crystals, said Evert, unless you're ready to step firmly into the spotlight and win.

Sidelined by a doping scandal for 15 months, last night marked Sharapova's return to the world stage of tennis. It doesn't get more all-eyes-on-you than Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York, and Sharapova was mostly ready for her close-up.

I say "mostly" because of her emotions. After almost every point, Sharapova, in an effort to compose herself, turned her back away from the crowd. And when she won, she fell to her knees and burst into tears.

It was something. And so was her dress. For the record, it was a collaboration between Nike and Italian designer Riccardo Tisci. Intricate without being overwrought, it was at once fierce + functional. 

According to The New York Times, in a post-match interview with ESPN, Sharapova was asked what she learned about herself during her first major outing since her suspension. "That behind this black dress with Swarovski crystals," she said, "this girl has a lot of grit and she's not going anywhere."

Style + substance. A winning combo if ever there was one.

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