Is This Year’s Edition of Wimbledon the Most Stylish One Yet?
Beyoncé once said: “tennis shoes, don’t even need to buy a new dress. If you ain’t there ain’t nobody else to impress.” That’s perhaps the only instance anyone can ever disagree with Beyoncé. Tennis fashion is far more ground-breaking than we care to acknowledge. With Wimbledon season in full swing, we look back at some pivotal fashion moments in the history of tennis and ask the big question – is this year’s edition the most stylish one yet?
The conventions and traditions at Wimbledon that both players and guests must follow are many. The most pressing is the strict all-white dress code which all participants are expected to follow. However, these strict rules haven’t stopped some individuals from bringing major looks to the grass courts in the past. In 1985, American tennis player Anne White stepped out in an all-white catsuit and a pair of leg warmers. This shook the world to the core as it was something that had never been done before. The choice of garment makes sense as it is functional and gives the player mobility. It also looks quite chic and effortless at the same time. Unfortunately, catsuits continue to be controversial in the world of tennis to this day: in the French Open of 2018, Serena Williams was banned from wearing her Nike catsuit designed specifically to prevent the forming of blood clots – a complication she faced after giving birth to her daughter. Serena Williams has always brought fashion statements to her workplace outfits. This past Tuesday, she wore a simple white tennis dress made edgy by the two cut-outs on the waist. Something tells us that we can always count on her to bring what’s current into a sport which follows tradition so closely. It’s no mistake she’s got Virgil Abloh behind her outfits, reimagining the old into the new.
Four words: Roger Federer, 2008 Wimbledon. The definition of sporty chic. He brought the elegance and old-timeliness to the court in a white cardigan and white shirt underneath. The outfit was complete with his initials. Though he lost the final match to his long-time friend and most promising opponent Rafael Nadal, he definitely won the best-dressed role in this look. This year he is always seen decked out in all-things Uniqlo, given his recent signing of a contract with the brand. Federer’s on-duty style has taken a slightly more functional turn (without a woollen cardigan in sight), but he continues to deliver the same finesse as he executes his world-famous forehands.
That same year, formal met sportswear (again) with Maria Sharapova. She effectively marked her place in Wimbledon history with her white tuxedo-esque uniform. The top was decorated with pleats while the bottom shorts replaced her usual skirt. Pleats are a staple in tennis-wear. Naomi Osaka wore a high-waisted pleated skirt to this year’s Wimbledon tournament, as she monumentally lost to Yulia Putintseva in the first round. American Apparel may have introduced the tennis skirt to the teenage masses of the 2010s, but it has been on the tennis player’s essentials list for a while.
The most awe-inspiring presence at Wimbledon this year is 15-year-old Coco Gauff, who beat the champion Venus Williams. The young prodigy made her debut at Wimbledon in a crisp white outfit decorated with a few gold linings and white New Balance sneakers also decorated in gold. The look was accompanied by orange, jewel-studded nails. Her stylistic choices show both respect to the conventions of the tournament but also truth to her youthfulness and personal style. Her success gives even more prominence to her choice, as the image of Gauff shaking Williams’ hand toured the world in seconds.
Tennis players are expected to follow specific guidelines when it comes to their attire, this leads to experimenting with fashion in a different sense. The “Wimbledon white” has not always been boring and uneventful. Instead, it proves that the functionality of activewear can go hand in hand with the playfulness and freedom that fashion can provide.
Venus Williams and Coco Gauff