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While beach volleyball is all about the sand, hot bods and bikinis, the fashion trends spread far beyond the surf. Olympic volleyball athletes and teammates Kerri Walsh Jennings and April Ross sat down from their hectic lives of volleyball training—and winning like crazy in the AVP tournament—to talk about their trend-worthy style.
They wear what works for them. Although they look super similar (per tournament protocols), the winning ladies have different sponsors, so the gear isn’t identical. Jennings works with Asics for all of her equipment needs, whereas Ross teams up with Mizuno. Thankfully, for some tournaments, the uniform requirements are more flexible. “It’s fun, I can wear a green bottom and she can wear a green top,” says Ross. “But on the World Tour, you have to match exactly. So we wear a lot of black then.” And keep an eye out for gear designed by the pros—Jennings is developing a shoe and apparel line with Asics that is sure to be full of functional style.
Uniform features matter. After all, you don’t want to start a game and realize there’s no way you’re making it through a set with the top you have on. So Jennings and Ross test, test, test—and keep an eye out for key gear components. “For me, having a bikini that ties behind the neck, it crushes my neck, so I can’t have that,” says Ross. “And if you wear a bikini that ties behind the neck every day, it hurts really badly. So we do the criss-cross straps in the back.” One thing they don’t look for? Skimpy suits. “I think our sport is sexy enough,” explains Jennings.
They buy each other gifts. Many athletes are notorious for good luck charms, and Walsh and Jennings are no exception. For an extra mental push on the courts, “I got each of us a Giving Keys [pendant],” says Jennings. “Mine says, ‘breathe’ and April’s says ‘dream.’ I want to invite breath and pause into my life, and this is just a daily reminder.”
Beauty takes a backseat, but it’s not dismissed. Hair and nails take a pounding thanks to sweating in the elements these Olympians train in (tons of sand = not so great for manicures). To make ‘em last and look good throughout the competition, “You have to do gel on the beach,” explains Ross. “If you get a normal manicure, it’s gone in a day.” As for the hair, both whip it into a cute pony or braid so it stays out of the way while still looking stylish.
Their styles off-court vary. When they’re not kicking a** and taking names, the pair likes to relax (and, well, cover up) in comfy, casual outfits. While Jennings is a fan of the classic jeans and tank combo, Ross opts for feminine, flowy outfits (Free People is a fave brand)—but with an edge. “I like being more girly off court, but I can’t be too girly or I’ll feel weird,” she says. “So I’ll wear sundresses with sneakers or pile on harder jewelry to offset it. I try to find the balance, and my main concern is to feel comfortable.”
To get more of Jennings and Ross, watch them in the championship game of the AVP Beach Volleyball Tour this weekend.