Wimbledon is the oldest tennis tournament in the world and has been played since 1877. To this date, it is considered to be the most prestigious of all of the four Grand Slams. In 1963, Wimbledon instituted a "predominantly white" rule which lasted until 1995 when the rule become much more strict to "almost entirely white". This meant that all tennis players who step foot on a Wimbledon court must be clothed in white attire – even Betthany Mattek-Sands:
No Shoes. No Whites. No Tennis. Wimbledon's rule #1 of 70938 rules in the handbook. But for #teamsafarovamatteksands there's always a plan B. Enjoy the vid kids! #wimbledon2015Posted by Rob Steckley on Friday, June 26, 2015
These are the current guidelines found on the Wimbledon website*link in regards to the tennis fashion for Wimbledon:
- No solid mass of colouring
- Little or no dark or bold colours
- No fluorescent colours
- Preference towards pastel colours
- Preference for the back of the shirt to be totally white
- Preference for shorts and skirts to be totally white
- All other items of clothing, including hats, socks and shoe uppers to be predominantly white
Those colours are limited to a centimetre of trim on necklines or cuffs. In an age in which sponsorship is everywhere, logos and icons are kept within similar size limitations. Stripes of colour are allowed, but must be no wider than one centimetre. And yes, Wimbledon officials do measure to make sure those stripes are compliant.
Why is white the colour of preference of apparel at Wimbledon?
Below are a couple explanations for this long-dated tradition.
1) Historically, white clothing represented a higher status and class.
In the 19th century white clothes were much more costly to manufacture, as opposed to other colours. The white clothing not only represented a certain of level of money, but also status and class. At that time, tennis was considered to be an elitist sport; wearing white further signified the upper class lifestyle.
2) The colour white keeps the players cooler!
Since the colour white reflects light, not as much of it is absorbed. The less light is absorbed through the clothes, the less heat is absorbed as well. This was, and still is, an important consideration when playing in the sun – white clothing keeps players cooler for longer. Especially during a time when tennis clothing consisted of long pants, shirts and shirts, finding a way to stay cool was essential.
Today, Wimbledon is one of the only tournaments in the world that has maintained this tradition. Throughout the years tennis has moved away from being deemed an “elitist” sport, to one that is enjoyed by the masses. Players are now encouraged to express their own personality and individuality through their attire. Whether it’s Roger Federer or Serena Williams, you can certainly expect to see them clothed in bright, fluorescent coloured attire for their match – except on a grass court.
If you are looking for some new tennis clothing check out our Wimbledon White Clothing collection.
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