When Serena Williams steps out onto the hard courts of the U.S. Open on Monday for what may be her last tournament, she will do so in a little black (tennis) dress with long sheer sleeves, a six-layer skirt — one tier for every U.S. Open title she has won — and a bodice sparkling with a galaxy of stars. It is a dress made for a supernova’s farewell. It is fitting, in more ways than one. If you’re not paying attention to the symbolism, you’re whiffing the point.
After all, Ms. Williams did reveal her plans to end her tennis career in an essay published not in ESPN or Sports Illustrated or Tennis Week but in the September issue of Vogue. Though the choice, with its accompanying cover shoot of Ms. Williams in an array of evening gowns, was met with some head-scratching in the sports world, it should have surprised no one.