Wimbledon women get creative with outfits despite a strict all-white rule

For the past 147 years, Wimbledon has enforced one of the strictest dress codes in sport.

But today, the leading ladies of the competition are doing their best to push the draconian and old English rules to an end.

From frills to wedding dresses, it’s clear that times have changed since the petals and corsets of the 1900s.

When four-time Grand Slam winner Naomi Osaka took to center court this week in a custom Nike tank top with cross-body ruffles, Wimbledon’s own website said the outfit wouldn’t look out of place at the Met Gala. “.

The only hint of color against Wimbledon’s white was small green flecks on her Nike shoes, and an olive-coloured Tag Heuer Aquaracer watch.

Wimbledon’s only concession to its all-white rule came last year when it allowed women to wear dark clothing to ease competitors’ concerns about their periods.

Naomi Osaka in custom-Nike, described as 'wouldn't look out of place at the Met Gala'

Naomi Osaka in Custom-Nike, described as ‘wouldn’t look out of place at the Met Gala’ – GETTY IMAGES EUROPE/SEAN M HAFFEY

Coco Gauff, the World No. 2 from the USA, at a press conference on Wednesday after her victory over the Romanian Anca Todoni, that she had to be creative when trying to stamp her personality on her outfit.

Gauff, 20, who wore a redesigned crop top allegedly inspired by Serena Williams’ own wear at Wimbledon 2019, said: “Honestly, Wimbledon – there’s not much you can do in the color department.

“We tried to do something different with the cut of the dress. Like, I really like to wear crop tops.

“That cut is kind of, like, supposed to be like a top, Wimbledon kind of elegant way, I just think of Wimbledon as a tradition.

“Even with my nails, I usually go like French or white here just to match that beauty. Yeah, so I think that was the inspiration from him.”

Gauff, who has previously revealed that she plans her Grand Slams outfits up to two years in advance, said: “The only thing you can really do here is play with the texture.

“Maybe next year, I’ll try to put more texture into it. There is not much you can do here. But I appreciate the elegance of it all.”

Ukraine's Marta Kostyuk wore a custom Wilson suit inspired by her wedding dressUkraine's Marta Kostyuk wore a custom Wilson suit inspired by her wedding dress

Ukraine’s Marta Kostyuk wore a custom Wilson suit inspired by her wedding dress – DANIEL KOPATSCH/GETTY IMAGES

Ukraine’s Marta Kotsyuk was handed a further victory over Slovakia’s Rebecca Šramková in the opening round of the tournament when she emerged victorious wearing an almost exact copy of her wedding dress, designed by tennis racket manufacturer Wilson.

Kostyuk, 22, and ranked No 18 in the world, told Vogue: “We were just talking about the wedding, and the dress – all of us: my agent and my team and some friends and some people from Wilson – and we were like. , ‘Why not be the first tennis brand to make a wedding dress?’”

She explained the decision to opt for a more athletic outfit for her wedding, saying: “I knew I didn’t want the kind of wedding dress that weighs 200 kilograms, or anything as complicated or fragile as you. you can’t move and you can’t enjoy being around people.

“So we started slowly, with nothing, and starting to shape it little by little.”

Figures released yesterday showed that nearly 41,115 visitors came to Wimbledon on the second day of the tournament, a thousand more than on the opening day.

In center court, Theresa May, the former Conservative prime minister, sat with Pimm’s in hand alongside tennis great Maria Sharapova and the Duchess of Gloucester.

Wimbledon fashion faux pas

Since 1877, Wimbledon players have had to wear white. The only allowance is a single 1cm color trim around the neckline and cuff of the sleeves.

In 2023, officials relaxed the dress code to allow women to wear dark trousers to reduce concerns about playing while on duty. Over the years, some players have experimented with the dress code.

Venus Williams at Wimbledon 2017Venus Williams at Wimbledon 2017

Venus Williams at Wimbledon 2017

Venus Williams was forced to change her bra midway through a Wimbledon match in 2017 after officials said the pink straps were against the rules.

She changed her underwear during a rain break in the second set of her winning match against Belgian player Elise Mertens.

Anne White at Wimbledon 1985Anne White at Wimbledon 1985

Anne White at Wimbledon 1985 – IMAGE

In 1985, Anne White’s decision to wear a full body white dress at Wimbledon angered her opponent Pam Shriver, who asked officials that she would not be allowed to wear the dress again.

Suzanne Lenglen at Wimbledon 1919Suzanne Lenglen at Wimbledon 1919

Suzanne Lenglen at Wimbledon 1919 – POPPERFOTO

In 1919, French player Suzanne Lenglen scandalized the Wimbledon press with her “indecent” outfit. Without a corset and coat before, she wore a low-necked dress with short sleeves and a calf-length skirt and silk stockings just above her knees.

Lenglen won the tournament and the next four Wimbledon championships, as well as two French Open medals and three Olympic medals.

Meanwhile, in 1934, Elieen Bennet Whittingstall became the first female player to wear the famous shorts on center court. The sight of her bare knees was said to have sent shockwaves through the crowd of onlookers.

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