Is All-White All Right?: The Reason Why Wimbledon Players Wear White
Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and is widely as regarded as one of the most prestigious sporting events ever. The world’s top tennis superstars have set foot in the iconic grass courts, such as Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, among many others.
Following tradition set by the All-England Club, it has implemented a strict dress code for competitors to wear white and only white in the court during matches and practices. This seemingly outdated dress code actually dates back to the 1800s, when tennis was considered a refined sport and had mostly women players. As it was the 19th century, the rules were a lot more close-minded. Sweat stains and patches on women were considered unsightly, so white clothing was adopted in order to avoid embarrassment.
The All-England Club has remained staunch with this rule, even after the U.S. Open allowed colored clothing in 1972. If anything, it only got stricter. In 2014, the All-England Club released a 10-part decree that zeroed in on colored clothing. Parts of the decree included “white does not include off-white or cream”, any mass of color must be no wider than 1cm, shoes and its soles must be almost entirely white, large manufacturers’ logos are not encouraged, and so on and so forth.
Understandably, a lot of tennis players feel that this antiquated set of rules are far too overbearing and is just a plain annoyance. Players such as Venus Williams and Eugenie Bouchard had to change their sports bra halfway through the match as it was colored, Roger Federer was told by officials to change his orange-soled trainers ahead of his match, Nick Kyrgios was wearing a colored headband (which was actually the official Wimbledon headband) and was ordered by officials to wear it inside out.
However, the marriage of this high-impact sport and high fashion is undeniable. With Roger Federer being named as GQ’s ‘Most Stylish Man’ last 2017, to the Williams sisters designing and launching their own respective clothing lines, it’s not hard to see why that is so. Will this all-white dress code for players continue into the future? Or will it in time relax, just as the dress code for spectators has also eased through the years? Only time will tell, but one thing is for sure, whether we like it or not the Wimbledon’s strict dress code has contributed to its fashionable reputation.
Lead photo via @wimbledon