The world's longest running tennis tournament, Wimbledon is now fully underway. Since the championship began in 1877, tennis wear has had a number of different incarnations. Tennis players' outfits today, particularly women's made from lycra and obscure techno fabrics, are a far cry from the floor length dresses and presumably extremely constraining corsets and underwear worn during the championship's early days.


The 'all white' uniform rule appears to be the only consistency in players' outfits, which is no surprise given how strictly enforced it has been in the past. In 1958 Karol Fageros (below) was taken off court and forced to change after wearing gold lamé shorts beneath her skirt.


Lengths, however, have proved even more controversial than a glimpse of colour. In 1949 Gertrude Moran, was accused of bringing 'vulgarity and sin to tennis' for wearing the shortest skirt yet seen at the tournament. In general female players have had rather a rough time with judgements on their Wimbledon attire. Although sportswear has the potential to be extremely chic, (see issue 47, 'Sporting') finding something both sport and media appropriate to wear must be a nightmare.


American player, Anne White photographed playing in 1985, her opponent requested that she never be allowed to wear the outfit again at Wimbledon.


The Watson sisters, Maud and Lilian photographed in 1884 - Lillian lost to Maud in their Wimbledon match.

Read Sarah E Braddock Clarke's piece on tennis and other sports wear through the ages in issue 18 of Selvedge.

(Painting; Country Club Series: Chicken Wire (2008), Hurvin Anderson)

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