The Wimbledon Championships are the oldest and most prestigious of the four tennis Grand Slam tournaments. Standing alongside the Australian, French and U.S opens, Wimbledon hosts nothing other than class, top-quality tennis and a sense of Britishness that isn’t found in many other places.
But as a whole, Wimbledon is awash in long-lasting traditions and features, such as the habit of calling the men’s and women’s competitions “Gentlemen’s” and “Ladies,” respectively. The upper-class nature of tennis has always come part-and-parcel with the sport, there’s a reason why tickets are so hard to get hold of and sell at such a high price… It’s supposed to be exclusive and sought after. For example, the Royal Box, the most prestigious area to watch competitors, has been reserved for members of the English nobility since 1922.
However, as the years have passed and the history has continued to grow, the iconicness of the historic Centre Court has seen some of the greatest athletes to ever live enter the (still) advertisement-free arena. But for all its grace, it’s iconic all-white dress code for all participants still stands.
But why does it? Here we wanted to look into the reasoning behind Wimbledon’s all-white traditions and due to the fact that our brand-spanking-new Pearl collection sits within the minimalist realms of the all-white Wimbledon - here’s why it’s not going anywhere any time soon...
The Wimbledon dress code was written in the 1880s, and the creators decided to make competitors wear all-white attire due to the fact that sweat stains were considered to be improper and unsightly. The all-white was brought in to minimise their visibility as sweat is more noticeable on colourful clothing.
From that period on, “tennis whites” were considered the attire for well-heeled tennis players, which described everyone who played in the first Wimbledon tournaments. Once the all-white rule was put in place, it was seen as disrespectful to go by anything else when playing on the grass.
The all-white look has been with the sport of tennis for a good while now, but it hasn’t always been a popular look with the players. Players have indeed rebelled against the rules, with the most memorable event of noncompliance coming from Andre Agassi. The tennis superstar refused to play at Wimbledon from 1988 to 1990 because the dress code prevented him from wearing the flashy clothing that he felt most comfortable wearing. The vibrant look of Agassi was a part of his brand at this time, and he felt that the new-found dress code of the time was compromising it.
But even so, more recently, arguably the best player to ever play the game, Roger Federer was frowned upon after he was seen rebelling against the dress code win 2013 with a pair of orange-soled trainers - he was reprimanded for wearing these and was forced to change his look for the following game. The following year, fellow tennis legend, Martina Navratilova Said that tournament rules had “gone too far” when they told her that her blue-striped skirt was not up to the standards.
So with this being said, if even the biggest greats of the sport are being reprimanded for not following these rules, it looks like the whites of Wimbledon are here to stay for a long time. But, do we really want any different? Tennis is one of the only sports in the world that has continued to keep the same heritage since it was created. Its classical nature is what makes the sport so brilliant - so we say, keep the white. Players cladding in white is what we remember the sport for, and it’s what makes it so great.