Fashion is the order of day at US Open

Serena Williams seemed more concerned at dropping her earring than her serve at the US Open, no surprise since they're worth US$40,000...

 Williams, the Australian Open champion and eighth seed at the final Grand Slam of the year, recovered the earring and the service break en route to a first-round victory and said playing in front of a New York crowd always brought out her fashion sense.

"It was definitely something special I really wanted to do," she said of the elaborate chandelier earrings on loan from a Los Angeles designer.

"For me it's the biggest stage. I love playing in New York. I love the US Open."

"You've got to have the bling," said Williams, who vowed to attach the earring more securely for her next match.

From the beaded hairstyle she once shared with her sister Venus to cut-out lycra to black cat suits, Williams has provided plenty of fashion statements over the years. She isn't the only one.

Venus Williams also reached the second round on Monday, her efforts and her person embellished with a necklace made of pearls, turquoise, gold beads, tourmalines and "all kinds of things in there."

After women's top seed Maria Sharapova took Manhattan by storm in the week before the open, touting her signature perfume and fashion lines, Switzerland's top seed Roger Federer was asked if style played as important a role in men's tennis.

 "I have the feeling that in women's tennis it is much more important," he said. "I think in men's it's still the game that counts more. Obviously, they're more sexy, they show more skin and they talk more about that than actually their forehand and backhand. I get one question about fashion basically. But I think that's how it should be, to be honest."

Nevertheless, Federer's finesse is sought by fashion mavens. He markets his own brand of scent, and appeared at the launch of men's Vogue on Friday.

Nor are the men averse to the odd on-court fashion statement.

Second-seeded Rafael Nadal, the reigning French Open champion, was quizzed on the form-fitting sleeveless red shirt he wore in his first-round victory over American Bobby Reynolds on Monday.

The 19-year-old who turned heads with his cropped tennis trousers insisted the shirt was comfortable.

"If I don't feel comfortable, I'm not going to play in it," he said, adding that compatriot Carlos Moya pioneered the sleeveless look some time ago.

Nadal said he wouldn't let the look get stale.

"I'll change the colour for the next match, I think," he said.