Why do Wimbledon players have to wear all white?
By Ed C
Updated 3rd December 2021
Wimbledon imposes strict rules on what players can and cannot wear at The Championships.
Unlike the other three Grand Slam tournaments, the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC) requires Wimbledon competitors to dress ‘almost entirely in white’.
What is the Dress Code for players at Wimbledon?
The AELTC states that all competitors must be 'dressed strictly in white when they enter a court'.
The restrictions apply to tracksuits, jumpers and training clothes being worn between the playing areas and the changing rooms.
The AELTC also states that off-white and cream coloured clothing is not permitted, and any coloured trims around sleeves and shirt collars must be no greater than 10mm in width.
Shoes, socks, caps and bandannas must also be completely white, as must any undergarments visible during play.
Players can wear clothing with small brand logos, but large logos and sponsorship motifs are not permitted. The AELTC has absolute discretion over what they consider a large or inappropriate logo to be.
Where did Wimbledon's all white clothing rule come from?
The rule dates back to the customs and propriety of the late 1800s, when The Championships were founded.
It was not considered socially acceptable for people, including athletes, to visibly sweat in public. White clothing minimised the chance of sweat marks showing.
In the interest of maintaining decorum, Wimbledon adopted the rule that all players must wear entirely white clothing.
Over the years, while complying with the dress code, players have brought some unique styles to The Championships as modern performance-enhancing clothing has become available, and other players have put a creative spin on Wimbledon’s dress code.
One player who has notably stamped her own style on the Wimbledon dress code, is seven-times champion Serena Williams. In 2021, Williams dazzled as she walked onto Centre Court with a removable train attached to a custom-made one-sleeve dress.
Has Wimbledon’s Dress Code caused any controversies?
While many great players have innovated on The Championships’ rigid dress codes, some have fallen foul of the AELTC’s standards, including eight-time champion Roger Federer. In 2013, Federer was reprimanded for wearing orange-soled trainers. Federer was forced to change his footwear before his next match at the Tournament.
A year later, nine-times Wimbledon champion Martina Navratilova criticised the AELTC for reprimanding her when she wore a pale blue striped skirt - despite having worn similar clothes in previous years.
Another Wimbledon legend, Andre Agassi, once boycotted playing at Wimbledon when he was prohibited from wearing his signature blue denim shorts at the event.
The AELTC’s rules even apply to events like the veterans’ tournaments, as Australian star Pat Cash found out in 2014. Cash pulled out of the Veterans’ Tournament that year after specialist shoes he was wearing to prevent injury fell foul of The Championship’s regulations.
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