Tennis, after a fashion

By A Yaamini . 28 Jun 2017

The connection between sports and fashion is intriguing, says A. Yaamini.

At a glance, many may believe that sports courts are far from the ramp. Reality shows that sports and games which started as a recreational or social event, had an influential effect on fashion.

The dress worn by men and women during these events were linked to their social status and traditional values. As sports became popular and accessible to most people belonging to various social segments and strata, the fashion associated with the sport also evolved.

Fashion in tennis

Tennis is associated with British aristocracy and it gradually spread to various other countries with British occupation. Then, it went further. Currently, there are four Grand Prix championships conducted for tennis: Wimbledon, US Open, French Open and Australian Open. Apparel, both off and on court, in the various tournaments has always grabbed the attention of the game's fans on one side and fashionistas on the other.

White for Wimbledon

The very British Wimbledon is considered the most prestigious tennis tournament. It is the only tennis tournament that employs the strict all-white dress code while all other tournaments have relaxed theirs to a great extent. There are a few reasons for the preference for white.

  • Wimbledon is a summer event and white is considered apt for summers.
  • Tennis was started as a leisure game for British royalty and army men at social gatherings. The athletic activity of the game lead to sweat that altered the look of coloured garments. That was considered inappropriate, hence white was preferred.

Wimbledon claims to uphold this tradition with strict rules on dress, inner wear, footwear and accessories.

It is interesting to note the changes in women's tennis dress and the various social, cultural and political factors that influenced this evolution process. The World Wars, movies, celebrities, art movements, change in attitudes and economic factors have had a fair share of contribution to the changes.

In the earlier years of the Wimbledon championships, a woman player wore a long, ankle length skirt with a full-sleeve shirt tucked in, and a tie. This tradition was followed by all English players. The attire was formal and met the standards of English tradition.