Started in 1877, the annual Wimbledon Championships are steeped in tradition. But one, in particular, has been making headlines recently for being insensitive to women: the all-white dress code.
The strict rule states that every player participating in Wimbledon must only wear white with other colours not allowed to occupy a surface wider than 1cm on their attire. The reason for the rule is that white resists sweat patches, which, in the 1880s, was considered rude and improper.
Recent weeks, however, have seen an uprising against the rule, with the latest comments from Australian tennis player Daria Saville.
“Recently just being at Wimbledon, I was talking to my friends saying I love the all-white look,” Saville told The Daily Aus.
“But then a few girls said they hate it because it sucks to wear all white while on your period. It’s true, I myself had to skip my period around Wimbledon for the reason that I didn’t want to worry about bleeding through, as we already have enough other stress.”
The backlash against Wimbledon’s dress code first started in June 2022 when sports broadcaster Catherine Whitaker had commented on menstrual cramps’ impact on performance on The Tennis Podcast. To which Olympic gold-medalist Monica Puig had tweeted: “Definitely something that affects female athletes! Finally bringing it to everyone’s attention. Not to mention the mental stress of having to wear all white at Wimbledon and praying not to have your period during those two weeks.”
Definitely something that affects female athletes! Finally bringing it to everyone’s attention! Not to mention the mental stress of having to wear all white at Wimbledon and praying not to have your period during those two weeks. https://t.co/PzyHnPlSJk
— Monica Puig (@MonicaAce93) May 31, 2022
Whitaker agreed, telling The Telegraph she’d like to the all-white dress code change. “If they had a clothing policy that affected men in the way that it does women, I don’t think that particular tradition would last,” she said. “I cannot imagine going into the biggest day of my life, with my period, and being forced to wear white.”
Former Australian tennis player Rennae Stubbs said the all-white rule is often talked about among female players in the locker rooms. “At Wimbledon, you’re very cognisant of making sure that everything’s ‘good to go’ the moment you walk on the court — making sure that you have a tampon,” Stubbs told Just Women’s Sports.
“A lot of women have pads on top of that, or making sure that you have an extra-large tampon before you go on the court. I think it might have been the one time that I actually left the court at Wimbledon, when I did have my period. The match went three sets and I had to go off and change.”
In 2013, Roger Federer was reprimanded for wearing orange-soled white shoes at Wimbledon. He was forced to replace them in his next math. Martina Navratilova was also scolded for wearing a blue-striped skirt in 2014.
With Wimbledon running Monday, June 27 to Sunday, July 10, 2022, all eyes will be on the players’ outfits, to see if more than 1cm of colour is allowed to creep through.