Naomi Osaka, Simone Biles and Megan Rapinoe dazzle Met Gala red carpet

Following in the footsteps of former co-chair and fellow Olympic tennis star Serena Williams, Osaka welcomed celebrities from all around the world for the fundraising extravaganza. 

By Chloe Merrell & Courtney Hill
Picture by 2021 Getty Images

After a one-year hiatus the Metropolitan Museum of Art Costume Institute benefit, or the Met gala, is back.

And it was 2021 co-chair Naomi Osaka leading the way for fellow Olympians on the red carpet in New York on Monday night (13 September).

Famed for the way she expresses herself through her outfits both on and off the court, Osaka’s individualistic style and choice of clothing shined through on the night with a bold and brilliant look that paid dividend to her Japanese heritage.

Osaka was joined by some familiar faces of Olympians from past and present.

Allyson Felix – America’s most decorated track and field athlete after this summer’s Games – was among those to walk the infamous staircase in a show stopping dress covered in thousands of ostrich feathers and crystal beads.

And she was joined by gymnastic 'GOAT' Simone Biles who took her Olympic career medal tally to an eye-watering seven last month in Japan, as well as new all-round gold medallist Sunisa Lee.

Tokyo 2020 200m bronze medallist Noah Lyles also attended his first Met gala last night, sporting a simple yet effective suit.

Olympic silver medallist with the United States Women's Football Team, Megan Rapinoe followed suit - quite literally - with a staple red and blue number.

In keeping with the suit theme, Nyjah Huston - who finished 7th in Tokyo as skateboarding made its Games debut - delivered with a crisp, all-white look.

And fresh off the back of a storming run to the US Open singles final and reaching the singles second round at Tokyo 2020, Canadian Leylah Fernandez graced the gala with her presence, along with final opponent and eventual winner of the US Open Emma Raducanu.

But it wasn't just this year’s Olympians soaking up the spotlight on a night full of glitz and glamour.

Tennis icon Serena Williams also descended on New York with a statement look, while London 2012 silver medallist Maria Sharapova, who herself co-hosted the event back in 2019, also made an appearance.

Though the summer stars enjoyed a well deserved break, it won't be long until they're setting their sights on a different kind of glitz when they begin competing for gold once again.

Past and present Olympians descend on New York for annual Met gala

What is the Met gala?

The Met gala is well known for being the most glamorous and star-studded event on the celebrity calendar, convening designers, models, and global superstars for a night of fundraising and celebration in aid of the Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute.

On hosting duties for this year’s edition was tennis superstar Naomi Osaka.

Every year, the Met gala has a small number of co-chairs who are selected by Vogue's Editor-in-Chief Anna Wintour. Actor Timothee Chalamet, musician Billie Eilish and poet Amanda Gorman were selected alongside the four-time Grand Slam champion to help receive guests.

The 23-year-old has recently become well accustomed to being at the heart of global events. On July 23 Osaka was given the honour of lighting the cauldron signalling the opening of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games in Japan.

As fashion’s most revered soiree, the gala is designated a theme. A-list guests from the industries of music, film, television, and sport are all encouraged to embrace the chosen concept and dress accordingly.

This year, the theme draws its inspiration from the exhibition that will also open on the night: In America: A Lexicon of Fashion. The creative direction is intended to be a celebration of designers heralding from the United States who have left their mark on the world of fashion.

And while we relish last night's daring yet brilliant fashion choices, Olympics.com takes a look back at Olympians who have already walked the coveted gala staircase in the wake of their own success.

Olympians at previous Met Galas