The oldest and most prestigious of the four tennis Grand Slam tournaments, the Wimbledon Championships has various long-lasting traditions. But the most well-known tradition is the all-white dress code for players. But why is it that the tournament requires players to dress in white?
Well, the simple answer is that it’s the dress code. When that dress code was written in the early days of the sport during the 1870’s, sweat stains were considered improper and unsightly, so it was decided that all-white should be worn to minimise visibility, as sweat is more apparent on colourful clothing.
From then on, the all-white dress code was considered standard attire for everyone taking part in Wimbledon and it stands until this day, although more for traditions sake. It has slightly relaxed in recent times and players can now dress “predominately in white” or “almost entirely in white”.
Players must be careful about the shade of white that they wear, as clothes that are off-white or cream in colour are not permitted. It also has very specific rules about the amount of colour that’s allowed when featured on necklines, the cuffs of sleeves or headbands. Strips of colour can be no wider than a centimetre and logos on clothing that consist of patterns are not allowed.
Wimbledon officials are serious about their tennis whites rule. There have been some rebellions against the dress code. Andre Agassi refused to play at Wimbledon between 1988 and 1990 because it prevented him from wearing his bright clothing that he was known for. In 2013 Roger Federer was reprimanded for wearing orange soled shoes and the following year Martina Navratilova was told her blue striped skirt did not meet the dress code.