The Wimbledon season is here and so are all the tennis stars who will be showing off their athletic skills. Besides being one of the biggest tennis tournaments, Wimbledon Open also happens to be unique in its dress code for the players. Played at London’s All England Lawn Tennis and Racquet Club, some of the top Tennis stars like Rafael Nadal will be decked out in their finest athletic gear, sans all the colour. At tennis’s oldest and most prestigious event there is one unique rule that makes it stand out from other tournaments. Wear all white.
The origin of this rule can be traced back to standards set in the Victorian era, when players wore white for propriety’s sake as it was believed that white showed less sweat, reports Time. The first rule for Wimbledon tennis players is that their outfit is “suitable tennis attire that is almost entirely white.” The rule applies to the players when they enter the court area. Time reports that the rules of the Wimbledon dress code have gotten tighter since its inception in the 19th century, to filter out all those players who might try to challenge the tradition of the look.
Even shades of off-white, and cream, logos, and colours contained in patterns are not allowed. While non-white trim is allowed with some pop of colour, but even that has to be on the neckline, sleeve cuff or outside seam of a pant, skirt, or shorts leg, and can only be under a centimetre wide, mentions Wimbledon.com. Besides the basic attire, other accessories like caps, headbands, bandanas, wristbands and socks, all are required to adhere to the same all-white rule, with the one-centimetre trim allowed. The shoes worn by the players also have to be completely white, without coloured soles, and undergarments that can be “visible during play” have to match with the white theme, too.
Despite such detailed rules on players’ dress code, there have been incidents where athletes have violated them.
Most recently during the 2022 qualifying round of Wimbledon, Latvian athlete Jelena Ostapenko paired a white top with a cream-coloured skirt. The outfit yielded a two-toned effect, which clearly is not the Wimbledon norm.
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In 2017, Venus Williams was also asked to change her bra in the middle of a match when her pink straps were spotted in the all-white tournament.