Tennis fashion through the yearsFashion & LifestyleNews & Features
With Wimbledon – the oldest tennis tournament in the world – coming to an end, we take a look at how women’s style on court has evolved. From lace-up corsets, lady-like slippers, and, on occasion, a well-placed fur, to the first – then shocking – pair of shorts, lingerie-inspired dresses and clashing hues, here are examples of the most stylishly standout moments in tennis dressing.
Not an inch of skin was on show at the turn of the century. Women wore cinched corsets and covered-up with floor-grazing skirts, long sleeves and hats.
Long hemlines and high collars continued into the following decade, as seen here on Ethel Thomson Larcombe, the 1912 Wimbledon ladies’ singles champion.
The twenties said goodbye to clothing constraints of the previous decades and introduced loose cocktail-inspired attire; players opted for drop-waist below-the-knee dresses and stylishly sporty bandeaux.
Silhouettes became more feminine and tailored, often with pleats, and hemlines shortened allowing for better mobility.
Legendary for her classic menswear style, Katharine Hepburn rejected the traditional tennis skirt in favour of flattering high-waisted shorts.
1950 saw a return to lady-like elegance; crisp white dresses, often featuring detailing such as guipure, were paired with demure cardigans.
The mod mini confidently made its way on to court, with hemlines now well above the knee. Maria Bueno, pictured, won the Wimbledon women’s singles final in 1960.
Outfits became shorter and tighter as this era’s disco fever spread to sportswear, giving prominence to patterned fabrics, embroidery and exaggerated collars.
1986 adopted the bright yellow tennis ball so that it could be easily spotted in televised matches. This decision had an impact on wardrobe with players opting out of the formal white dress code and selecting a palette of pastels.
Colour brightened considerably, shifting from pastel tones to neon hues. Lightweight fabrics such as nylon and spandex also began to emerge, as seen on Steffi Graf.
Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova are two tennis players who became almost as famous for what they wore as they were for their performances. Short, tight, midriff-baring outfits with bold prints, and even Swarovski crystals, made an appearance.
Venus and Serena Williams ushered in a stream of outlandish designs that demanded attention on the court: a mixture of revealing cuts, embellishment, lace and PVC.
This year’s tournament saw fashion go back to basics as simple white garments dominated Wimbledon. Delicate sheer panels, mesh and soft pleating frequently featured on dresses, with shiny white visors popular accessories.