It’s been a tradition for tennis players to wear all white attire at Wimbledon since 1877, the year the tournament was founded. And there is one main reason for this mandate – sweat. Yes, sweat.
The strict dress code was established during Victorian times when tennis was primarily played by women – a time when the game was less of a sport, more of a pastime. Ladies were not expected to sweat and, if they did, white was deemed to be the colour that would best disguise its presence.
Over the years players at Wimbledon have attempted to contravene the all white dress code by introducing colour to their on-court clothing, only to be reprimanded and/or fined. In 2013, Roger Federer was asked to change his brilliant orange-soled Nike footwear and in 2015, Canadian Eugenie Bouchard was warned after a match not to wear her black bra on the court again!
Wimbledon’s Official Dress Code
The following refers to all clothing, including tracksuits and sweaters, worn on The Championship courts both for practice and for matches:
1) Competitors must be dressed in suitable tennis attire that is almost entirely white and this applies from the point at which the player enters the court surround.
2) White does not include off white or cream.
3) There should be no solid mass or panel of colouring. A single trim of colour around the neckline and around the cuff of the sleeves is acceptable but must be no wider than one centimetre (10mm).
4) Colour contained within patterns will be measured as if it is a solid mass of colour and should be within the one centimetre (10mm) guide. Logos formed by variations of material or patterns are not acceptable.
5) The back of a shirt, dress, tracksuit top or sweater must be completely white.
6) Shorts, skirts and tracksuit bottoms must be completely white except for a single trim of colour down the outside seam no wider than one centimetre (10mm).
7) Caps (including the underbill), headbands, bandanas, wristbands and socks must be completely white except for a single trim of colour no wider than one centimetre (10mm).
8) Shoes must be almost entirely white. Soles and laces must be completely white. Large manufacturers’ logos are not encouraged. The grass court shoes must adhere to the Grand Slam rules (see Appendix 1 below for full details of the 2017 rules). In particular shoes with pimples around the outside of the toes shall not be permitted. The foxing around the toes must be smooth.
9) Any undergarments that either are or can be visible during play (including due to perspiration) must also be completely white except for a single trim of colour no wider than one centimetre (10mm). In addition, common standards of decency are required at all times.
10) Medical supports and equipment should be white if possible but may be coloured if absolutely necessary. A more relaxed dress code operates at the Aorangi Park practice courts.