The History of Women's Fashion in Tennis
What sets tennis from other sports is that the players do not have a particular uniform. When women began to coin the term “women revolution”, an uprising against bias in gender, so has the fashion in tennis courts. Short skirts and shorts, sleeveless tops that is what characterizes today’s outfit of a female tennis player. But back a century ago when tennis began, such was not the case.
When the game of tennis gained popularity among the ladies during the Victorian age in the late 1860s, there was yet no appropriate attire for the sport. The players then had to settle for what they thought was appropriate tight-sleeved jackets, long skirts, gloves and hats.
White became a commonplace in Wimbledon in the 1890s to conceal sweat stains. The signature white color has been traditionally carried in Wimbledon until the present. In 1905, practicality led Mary Sutton to wear her father’s shirts at Wimbledon. It was the first time that a female tennis pro complained about her “hot” long sleeves that she decided to roll back the cuffs.
It wasn’t until after World War I that female tennis players began to be open-minded about stylish and practical fashion in court. The change began with Suzanne Lenglen in 1922 when she wore short skirts, brightly colored cardigans and a bandeau instead of the traditional hat at Wimbledon, much to the surprise of many. Her fashion statement caused a fuss and in fact, people even betted on the color of her next bandeau in her upcoming games.
It was only in the 1930s that wearing of stockings by athletes ended and that a bare head was accepted in the world of tennis. Another bold athlete in the name of Alice Marble wore white shorts to court in 1932.
After World War II, women began to be more sensible in fashion clothing to address the practical side. What used to be an uncomfortable outfit became comfortable skirts or shorts, short-sleeved shirts and jockey caps.
In 1949, it became the turn of an American to make a daring move in tennis fashion. Gertrud Moran wore lace-trimmed panties under her white dress to Wimbledon! The general public was so involved by her outfit that the London Daily Express featured the news five times in a week. The panties were designed by Ted Tinling, a former umpire and player. It was after Tinling introduced a color-trimmed dress that Wimbledon imposed the all-white rule. He later created another gold panty for Karol Fagero but it was banned in Wimbledon.
Wimbledon officials, during the 1980s, were outraged by the body suit worn by Anne White to the game. The suit was all-white and skin tight. She was cautiously not to don the same outfit again. Despite losing, White received praises for her courage to make such a daring fashion move.
Fashion in the late 1990s was revolutionized when the Williams sisters – Venus and Serena – entered the scene. They wore colorful clothes, dangling earrings and hair beads that take around 4 hours to design. The Williams sisters even know how to accessorize up in the traditional all-white Wimbledon Cup turning plain whites into fashionable tennis wears. Their entry in the spotlight took the attention of photographers, who from then on not only captured amazing tennis moments but tennis fashion as well.
Serena once increased the tension in court during the U.S. Open when in 2002, she wore a leather-like catsuit. In 2004, in the same Grand Slam event, she wore another daring outfit – boots and denim skirts! Serena’s fashion sense reached high public demand that she opened a fashion line called “Aneres”, planning to sell them in L.A. and Miami boutiques. Her sister Venus also launched her own line called “Ele Ven” in 2007.
Tennis and fashion now are inseparable as female players today not only give full performance during games but also don in very fashionable tennis outfits. Indeed, whoever said that you can’t play tennis and be fashionable at the same time? Today, spectators not only await the moves of the players in tennis but also watch out for the next big thing in tennis fashion, in the catwalk they call court.
Related news & articles
Sunday June 15
Modern tennis, as a sporting activity and hobby, began in the late 19th century in the United Kingdom. More
Wednesday December 23
Serena Williams is one of the top female players in tennis, and by giving her best performance at the most important events, she has been able to re-establish her presence as the top player for 2009 in women’s tennis. More
Monday August 23
On Friday, Serena Williams announced her withdrawal from the U. More
Tuesday June 29
At Wimbledon, the women’s defending champion, Serena Williams showed off her skill when she overcame Maria Sharapova in a 7-6(9), 6-4 match last Monday, reaching the quarterfinals of the tournament and avenged her loss to Sharapova during the 2004 finals. More