Wimbledon dress code

The Origin of the Wimbledon Dress Code

Wimbledon’s all-white dress code dates back to the Victorian Era, but that hasn’t stopped tennis players from challenging the rules from time to time. Here’s a look at the players who have refused to wear white on the courts.

Serena and Venus Williams
USA Today

Wimbledon's iconic grass courts and traditional dress code are just a few of the reasons the oldest Slam is considered to be the most prestigious. 

Participants of The Championships have been required to adhere to the official all-white dress code dating back to the 1870s. 

And, over the centuries, the rules have only gotten more strict. Here’s a look at the event’s fashion history. 

Why is the Wimbledon dress code white?

During the Victorian Era, it was important to be "incredibly proper," according to Meredith Richards, the librarian at the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

It was also considered improper if perspiration was visible while tennis players competed. The idea of wearing all white arose because it was thought to be a more breathable material color and less hot than darker colors like black.

"Players would sweat less in their whites — and their perspiration would be not be quite so obvious, thanks to the light color," Richards said.

Because the dress code appears to be around for the long haul, here’s everything you need to know about the all-white tradition:

What is the Wimbledon dress code?

All players competing at Wimbledon have had to wear all-white from head to toe. Shades of off-white and cream are not acceptable. 

Additionally, if the trim of an outfit is non-white, it can only be under a centimeter wide and must be on the neckline, sleeve cuff or outside seam of a player's outfit bottom. 

The dress code extends to caps, headbands, bandanas, wristbands, visible undergarments and socks, which all must be white unless they have a trim of color smaller than one centimeter. 

Shoes must be almost entirely white, including soles and laces. 

The policy extends to medical equipment. The preference is to have all white medical support such as from tape but the rule can be bent if absolutely necessary.

Lastly, logos formed by materials or patterns are not prohibited.

How strict is the Wimbledon dress code?

The short answer - VERY.

If an official sees any discrepancies in a player's on-court attire, they will request an outfit change.

If there is a trim of color in question, an umpire will pull out a measuring tape to ensure it meets the required guidelines.

Which tennis players have challenged Wimbledon's dress code?

Over the years, players have challenged the boundaries of the dress code, which in turn made the rules even stricter.

In 1977, Sue Baker arrived on court in a skirt that was much above the knee in length. While a skirt that length would be considered acceptable now, women traditionally wore long skirts then.

From 1988 to 1990, tennis legend Andrew Agassi refused to participate in the event because he loved wearing bright-colored tennis outfits.

He eventually gave in to the dress code in 1992 when he won the event and ended his boycott.

In 2013, Roger Federer's orange bottomed-shoes caused quite the stir. The incident led to a rule update, clarifying that shoes, soles and laces must be all white. Luckily, the 20-time Grand Slam champ had a second pair of shoes to change into.

In 2017, Venus Williams wore a pink sports bra under her tank top. Because all visible undergarments are required to be white, Williams was asked to change mid-game.

How do players at 2022 Wimbledon feel about the dress code?

Nick Kyrgios, who is set to face Cristian Garin of Chile for a spot in the semifinals on Wednesday, was asked about the dress code during a pre-tournament press conference.

“I mean, I always want to wear all black, obviously,” said Kyrgios, who was dressed in a black hoodie and matching cap.

“It would be cool to allow, like, a black headband or black sweatband. I think it would look cool,” he added. “Obviously Wimbledon doesn’t really care what looks cool.”

Alison Riske-Amritraj, who fell in the third round of Wimbledon to Czeck’s Marie Bouzkova on Friday, feels a bit different about the policy, and has opted to embrace the tradition.

“For me, what I love about Wimbledon is the tradition and that is what makes it so special, and having the all-white attire is one of the small traditions that I really embrace. It looks crisp, especially against the grass court,” said Riske-Amritraj.

Jessica Pegula, the tournament's No. 8 seed who fell to Croatia’s Petra Martić in the fourth round, has a more indifferent approach to the tradition.

“Could it be maybe a little bit more up to date? Of course. We are in 2022,” Pegula said. “Then again, it’s two weeks out of the calendar where you have to do it. It’s part of what makes Wimbledon, Wimbledon.”

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