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Sunday, June 19, 2011
Bethanie Mattek-Sands planning outfit

Associated Press

When it comes to players' clothing, Wimbledon frowns upon on-court colors or flamboyance. Not surprisingly, Bethanie Mattek-Sands -- she of the knee-high socks and eye black strips, among other accessories -- has figured out a way to stand out from the crowd.

The 26-year-old American, who is seeded 30th at the All England Club, plans to wear something over her outfit -- she won't say exactly what -- with white tennis balls adorning it when she walks out for her first-round match Tuesday against qualifier Misaki Doi of Japan.

Mattek-Sands' unique top was designed by Alex Noble, who creates over-the-top costumes for singer Lady Gaga.

"I have something of his that I'm going to wear onto the court, but I can't play in it," Mattek-Sands said. "It's my big surprise for Wimbledon."

Judging by another Noble item that Mattek-Sands wore recently, it's sure to grab attention. At the WTA's pre-tournament party Thursday, Mattek-Sands donned a neon yellow dress festooned with tennis balls, racket strings and a section of a net.

"It was awesome, even though it was a little bit of a crazy day," Mattek-Sands said. "I had to play my quarterfinal match at Eastbourne, so they sent a helicopter to fly me to London, and I only had 50 minutes to get dressed and do my makeup."

For all of her whimsical fashion choices -- off the court, and on -- Mattek-Sands takes her tennis seriously. She's ranked a career-high 31st and is seeded at a Grand Slam tournament for the first time.

"When I'm relaxed and having fun, I play my best tennis," said Mattek-Sands, who was born in Minnesota and lives in Arizona. "Tennis is what I've done since I'm 5 and have been focused on. Everything has come to fruition now, but it's always been important to me."