Wimbledon is one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world, attracting the best players and millions of fans every year. But it is also known for its strict dress code, which requires players to wear all-white outfits on the court. However, this year, the tournament has made a historic change to its rules, allowing women players to wear dark-colored undershorts for the first time.
The Origin Of The All-White Dress Code
The all-white dress code dates back to the first Wimbledon tournament in 1877 when tennis was considered a genteel sport for the upper class. The white clothing was meant to hide sweat stains and preserve a sense of decorum. Over the years, the dress code has evolved slightly, allowing a single trim of color on the neckline or sleeve, but it has remained largely unchanged for 146 years.
The Reason For The Change
The change to the dress code was motivated by a desire to ease anxiety around periods for women players. Many players have spoken about the challenges of managing their menstruation during Wimbledon, especially when wearing white undershorts that could reveal blood stains. Some players have resorted to hormonal birth control or other methods to avoid bleeding during the tournament.
The change was advocated by tennis legend Billie Jean King and Judy Murray, the mother of pro player Andu Murray, among others. King told CNN in 2022 that wearing white undershorts was always a source of worry for her and other women players. "It's what you wear underneath that's important for your menstrual period", she said.
The new rule allows women players to wear mid- to dark-colored undershorts, as long as they are not longer than their skirts or tennis shorts. The change was announced in November 2022 by the All England Club, which organizes Wimbledon and took effect this year. In a statement, All England Club CEO Sally Bolton said she hopes that the new rule "will help players focus purely on their performance by relieving a potential source of anxiety".
The Reaction From Players
The updated dress code has been welcomed by many players, who expressed their gratitude and relief for the change. United States pro Coco Gauff, who reached the quarterfinals at Wimbledon in 2022, said that the change would relieve a lot of stress for her and other girls in the locker room. "I think it's going to make a big difference", she told Sky News.
Other players who have spoken about the difficulties of playing with periods at Wimbledon include British player Heather Watson, who said she went on the pill last year to avoid bleeding and embarrassment.
The Dress Code For Spectators
While the players have to follow the all-white dress code, the spectators are not bound by the same rules. However, they are expected to wear formal daywear, especially if they are seated in the Royal Box or other VIP areas. Forbidden items include dirty sneakers, ripped jeans, and running shorts.
The dress code for spectators is not enforced by officials but by social norms and peer pressure. Those who violated the dress code may face disapproval or ridicule from other attendees.
The Significance Of The Change
The change to Wimbledon's dress code may seem minor, but it is a significant step towards acknowledging and addressing the needs and challenges of women athletes. It also reflects a border shift in society's attitudes towards periods, which becoming less taboo and more openly discussed.
By allowing women players to work dark-colored undershorts, Wimbledon is showing respect and support for their bodily annual autonomy, and well-bing. It is also sending a message that . periods are not something to be ashamed of or hiding away but a natural part of life that should not interfere with one's performance or potential.