NEW YORK — Crystals, shapes, and knee-high socks.
Some players at this year’s U.S. Open are making daring fashion choices that scream everything from shimmering sophistication to retro dorky. And in the age of social media, the reaction — good and bad — can come in as fast as a 120-mph serve.
Take the Twitter backlash to No. 4-seeded Alexander Zverev’s get-up for his first-round match: a pinstriped shirt and striped headband that evoked Bjorn Borg, and striped knee-high socks that some fans compared to Will Ferrell’s 1970s basketball player look from the movie “Semi-Pro.”
It was part of a line designed for Adidas by Pharrell Williams, the musical artist behind the hit “Happy.” Critics of his Zverev ensemble were more “Snarky.”
“Zverev’s socks make me want to vomit,” said one Twitter critic. Added others: “Preoccupied with Zverev’s schoolgirl-meets-Borg look.” … “He was moving slow because he was wearing an extra 10 pounds of socks.”
Even the Adidas store a few steps away from Arthur Ashe Stadium seemed to downplay the $35 knee-highs in its picture-window displays. Mannequins wore them scrunched down around their ankles.
Zverev himself acknowledged after his match ended early Tuesday that he was thinking about doing the same, but he was mindful that Williams was sitting in his spectator box.
“Obviously I didn’t want to disappoint him and put them down a little while he’s watching me,” the German said.
Maria Sharapova got a much different reaction when she took the court Monday under the lights at Ashe, her first Grand Slam appearance after serving a 15-month ban from the game for doping. The Russian sported a black Nike minidress that featured lace in the sleeveless top and shimmering Swarovski crystals dotting the skirt.
“She’s got lace AND sequins,” Chris Evert commented during the ESPN broadcast. “She’s all sparkly.”
Sharapova said in an interview with Vogue that she and designer Riccardo Tisci chose black for her night matches because it is the same color she wore on her way to her lone U.S. Open title in 2006 and because it evokes the image of “Audrey Hepburn and her classic Givenchy dress.”
After her first-round upset of No. 2-seeded Simona Halep, a triumphant Sharapova even gave her fashion choices a little plug.
“Behind all these Swarovski crystals and little black dresses, this girl has a lot of grit,” she said.
But for those seeking to get Sharapova’s dress to make the ultimate tennis club entrance, it will not come cheap. Nike stores sell them for $500 — $700 for the matching warmup jacket.
The prevailing fashion theme at Flushing Meadows seemed to be designs with geometric shapes of color, bold but more understated than last year’s fluorescent reds, oranges and yellows. (Rafael Nadal bucked that trend with a bright pink shirt.)
Rising star Dominic Thiem led a slew of players wearing Adidas’ most ubiquitous kit, also designed by Williams, featuring big rectangles of red, blue and yellow. Top-seeded woman Karolina Pliskova wore a Fila skirt made up of tiny triangles of blue and red.
And then there was tour rebel Fabio Fognini, whose rain-delayed match Tuesday was expected to feature him in one of the most daring designs of all: a mostly black outfit from Hydrogen emblazoned on the back with a huge tattoolike design of a snarling rattlesnake ready to strike.