Wozniacki, whose outfits are designed by Stella McCartney, may indeed play better when she believes she is looking good.
But--Wozniacki's statement aside--what is "looking good"? The unrecognizable, air-brushed clones on the tour site? The women whose faces and bodies (and skin color) conform to the culture's definition of "feminine beauty"?
The world number 2 now uses the "f" word in just about every interview she gives. Practically the first words out of her mouth when she arrived in Charleston were "I like to look feminine." Fashion does play a (minor) role in tennis, and players like Wozniacki and Maria Sharapova, who have outfits designed for them (in Sharapova's case, she's part of the design team) definitely add interest to the entertainment side of the sport. Who of us doesn't have memories of some of the outfits worn by players like Sharapova, Rosie Casals and Serena Williams? Fashion plays a role in the ATP, too, thought perhaps not as big a role. Seeing what the players are wearing adds to the fun of being a spectator.
I remember, a few years ago, Daniela Hantuchova ackowledged that she liked to do fashion shoots, but that she didn't want her clothing to be an issue when she was on the court because she didn't think people should be distracted from the tennis by looking at the players' outfits.
Of course, there are many points of view to be taken about fashion and tennis. Top players often enjoy selecting their outfits for tournaments. Venus Williams designs her own outfits. A top 20 player does have a public image, and it seems reasonable to assume that she would enjoy dressing for tennis. (Players ranked lower than that might enjoy dressing for tennis, too; top 20 is an arbitrary number.) There are fans who care about what players wear, and fans who do not. On-court outfits can reflect players' personal styles and provide fans with insights into the players' different personalities.
Fashion is an important part of life for many people in the world. Looking one's best or expressing one's creativity through clothing and accessories is certainly an option for professional sportswomen, and one that many fans enjoy. But the need to be considered "feminine" is a particular issue for women in sports. Wozniacki is not the only player to emphasize that she "likes" being "feminine." The U.S. press made Chris Evert the un-Navratilova every chance it got. Evert was (to sportswriters) "girly," and Navratilova was a muscle-bound female who was also that dreaded entity--a lesbian. Nothing has changed. (A couple of years ago, in the U.K., a program was developed to encourage girls to play tennis because of the sport's "glamour" side.)
Just today, on a Web forum, I saw a comment in which someone referred to a tour player--as "masculine." This obsession with feminine and not-feminine puts additional pressure on young players who may not yet have strong self-identities, and it reifies the notion that only certain characteristics pass as "feminine"--not to mention, the notion that those characteristics are desirable, and other characteristics are undesirable.
You don't hear messages from the players or the press that ATP stars look "masculine." Players on the women's tour should also be able to enjoy expressing themselves--or not--through fashion, without being concerned about the concept of culturally defined femininity. In both pro tennis and pro golf, the constant assurances we hear that the women are feminine creates a standard for dress and behavior that isolates players who do not possess the "right" look. And it also puts pressure on those who do possess "the look" to be ambassadors for an arbitrary societal standard.