Wimbledon’s all-white rule might be the oldest dress-code in modern sporting history. There are slight changes along the way, but the differences we’ve seen for the past few years have got tennis fans questioning its origin and most importantly—its point, after all.
The logic of Wimbledon’s white dresscode is pretty simple. White outfits prevent you from having visible sweat patches. At the time it was first settled, it wasn’t “normal” to be seen perspiring.
All good? Yes, all good. So why do I bother writing this 500-word article instead of closing my Ms. Word and having a coffee break?
Here’s why: the regulation has been very strict for the past few years that the players and fans would shake their heads out of silliness. First of all, the color should be purely, divinely, white—not off-white, cream, snow white, white swan, white pearl—you name it.
And then, there is only “a single trim of color not more than a centimeter allowed for neckline, cuff of sleeves, headbands, and undergarment”. And, oh, don’t forget that the rule also applies to accessories like wristband, headband, socks, and shoes. Now please hold on for a sec because we have a funny story about this.
In 2013, Federer was forced to change his white Nike shoes with orange soles after one game. The all-time record holder for Wimbledon title has been said to “make a bold statement” for his choice of sole color. And if you think this is weird enough, believe me, this is just the beginning.
“One Match Wonder”: the legendary shoes turned to be a sold-out limited edition on Nike site
Two years later, Canadian player Eugenie Bouchard also received a warning for wearing a barely-visible black undergarment. The then 21-year old coyly protested “How would I know?” because, really, we also don’t know that a black sport bra matters that much.
“Nobody told me that”, said Eugenie.
Now let’s have some quick quiz. With the examples provided above, do you think the outfits Serena Williams wear below can outsmart current attire regulation in Wimbledon?
On the left picture below, we can be sure that Pete Sampras would be asked to change his shirt before holding his trophy if he won it in 2017. Not only because the rulebook doesn’t fancy square patterns, but because it has allergic reaction to patterned brand logo as well (red and blue Nike logo in shape of a tennis court? What the hell?). If he did change his shirt, though, we would have Pete Sampras on the right picture—all white and clean.
Bad Pete, Good Pete: An illustration of seven-times Wimbledon winner before and after he changed his shirt to please the disciplinary commission.
After all these obsessive-compulsive cases of Wimbledon dresscode, is it even possible to wear just the right attire in the tournament today?
Believe me, it is still possible. To close this ranting session, our star students Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal will give a demo about how to dress well in Wimbledon:
PHOTOS Courtesy of Eurosport, Andrew Cowie / COLORSPORTS, Wimbledon Tennis