25.09.2022

Why Serena Williams wore black stickers on her face at Wimbledon

Serena Williams returned to Grand Slam tennis for the first time in a year yesterday at Wimbledon — but it wasn’t just her shock first-round exit that got fans talking.

The ace was seen sporting black ‘stickers’ on her face, which had many questioning if they were symbolic or a ploy to put her opponent off.

It turns out the small strips on her right cheek were medical tape, thought to help keep her sinuses clear and help her breathe properly.

The 40-year-old suffers from recurrent sinusitis which, as well as blocking the airways, can lead to headaches, pressure and pain in the face.

Prime Minister Boris Johnson is also thought to suffer from the condition and had surgery to clear his sinuses last week.

Williams was also seen wearing the kinesiology tape, or K-tape, when she reached the doubles semi-finals at a tournament in Eastbourne earlier this month.

The super-thin flexible material is normally used to aid muscle recovery and increase range of motion in joints, despite limited evidence it actually works.

It has become a ubiquitous piece of kit for top level athletes nursing injuries across nearly every sport — from Cristiano Ronaldo to Tiger Woods.

Serena Williams was seen sporting black ‘stickers’ on her face as she returned to Grand Slam tennis for the first time in a year on Tuesday at Wimbledon

It had many questioning if they were symbolic or a ploy to put her opponent off – but turned out to be medical tape used to relieve pressure in her face

Tension created by the fabric retracting over the skin is supposed to boost circulation, leading to these benefits.

Although it has actually been around since the 1970s, studies have failed to show whether relief reported by sportsmen is simply a placebo effect.

Despite limited evidence, Olympic skiers began wearing the tape on their faces at the Beijing winter games this year to protect them from frostbite.

A 16ft roll of tape typically costs between £3 and £5.

KT Tape, the company that makes the tape, has previously warned against athletes wearing it on their face because it has never been tested in this way.

With little long-term cures for sinusitis, Williams is thought to be using the tape in hope that it will open up her nasal passages for increased airflow and reduce pain or tension from congested sinuses.

Cristiano Ronaldo is seen wearing blue K-tape on his leg in 2012 while playing for Real Madrid

Welsh winger Gareth Bale was also pictured sporting the tap during a Madrid match in 2014

Tiger Woods was seen wearing KT Tape for neck problems in 2018

She has been suffering from the ailment for more than a decade.

In 2007 Williams said in an interview: ‘I’m a sinus sufferer. Playing tennis or pretty much doing anything every day is not easy when you have sinuses.

‘You feel a lot of pressure, congestion and pain and training for grand slams…it’s not easy.’

The sinuses are small, empty spaces behind your cheekbones and forehead that connect to the inside of the nose.

They make thin mucus that drains out of the channels of the nose, keeping it clean and free of bacteria.

Sinusitis is swelling of the sinuses, usually caused by a cold or flu spreading from the upper airways.

It is common and usually clears up on its own within three weeks, but a small number of people suffer recurrent infections.

When nasal sprays and antibiotics don’t work, the only other option is surgery.

A quick Google search for kinesiology tape and sinusitis brings up dozens of tutorials for how to apply the tape to the nose or face to relieve pressure.

But the trend has not been endorsed by Greg Venner, chief executive of the US-based KT Tape.

He was asked about using face tape after a number of skiers were pictured wearing the strips on their cheeks at the Winter Olympics to shield against Beijing’s bitterly cold winds.

Venner told USA Today at the time: ‘KT Tape doesn’t endorse the use of kinesiology tape on the face as it isn’t clinically tested.

‘And the adhesive that works so well to keep tape in place to provide long-lasting muscle and joint support can be a bit more difficult to remove from the delicate skin on the face.

‘However, we certainly applaud the creativity.’

WHAT IS SINUSITIS? AND CAN TAPE FIX IT?

The sinuses are small, empty spaces behind your cheekbones and forehead that connect to the inside of the nose.

They make thin mucus that drains out of the channels of the nose, keeping it clean and free of bacteria.

Sinusitis is swelling of the sinuses, usually caused by the cold or flu spreading to the sinuses from the upper airways.

It is common and usually clears up on its own within three weeks.

Nasal sprays or antibiotics are prescribed if the infection is taking a long time to go away.

Surgery is a last resort if infections are becoming increasingly common or if drugs don’t work.

Kinesiology tape, or K-tape, is normally used to aid muscle recovery and increase range of motion in joints, despite limited evidence it actually works.

A 16ft roll of tape typically costs between £3 and £5.

Tension created by the fabric retracting over the skin is supposed to boost circulation, leading to these benefits.

Although it has actually been around since the 1970s, studies have failed to show whether relief reported by sportsmen is simply a placebo effect.

Despite the limited evidence, it has become a ubiquitous piece of kit for athletes nursing injuries across nearly every sport — from football to distance running.

But Olympic skiers began wearing the tape on their faces at the Beijing winter games this year to protect them from frostbite.

KT Tape, the company that makes the tape, has previously warned against athletes wearing it on their face because it has never been tested in this way.

With little long-term cures for sinusitis, Williams is using the tape in the hopes that it will prevent pain and ease pressure around her nose on the court.

She has been suffering from the ailment for more than a decade.

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