The Wimbledon dress code is legendary, and an historic tradition. Dating back to Victorian times, the rules state that players must wear “suitable tennis attire that is almost entirely white” from the moment they step onto the court.
Even undergarments are included in the rule, and not even cream or off-white are allowed. It’s something that sets Wimbledon apart from other tournaments, but it can also cause distress to female players.
Now, this rule comes with an asterisk. Thanks to pressure from players, the organizers of Wimbledon are allowing women to wear non-white undergarments for the first time.
American professional tennis player Coco Gauff is one of the many female players to speak out in support of the change. “I really support it a lot. It’s going to be a big relief,” she told Sky Sports. “I was on my period last year during Wimbledon, and it was very stressful. I think it’s going to relieve a lot of stress for me and other girls in the locker room for sure.”
A necessary change
It’s easy to see why this update is important. Women’s Running recently reported on a period-shaming incident involving professional triathlete Emma Pallant-Browne.
A male social media user felt it necessary to shame the professional athlete for having a visible period stain on her trisuit while competing.
Pallant-Browne shared a powerful response, in which she explained that it’s “definitely something I’m not shy to talk about because it’s the reality of females in sport”.
Unfortunately, the comment was very telling as to why many female athletes feel this pressure. Many other social media users commented on how Pallant-Browne’s period stain was barely noticeable. However, it’s important to have the choice to wear non-white for the sake of feeling comfortable.
Wimbledon following suit
In April, news was shared that the hugely successful England women’s football team would be switching from white shorts to blue.
Players such as Beth Mead had voiced similar concerns to the tennis players about wearing white while on their periods.
England defender Lucy Parker spoke to the press about the change. “Anything that relieves the mental stress of the players is a good thing. If it’s one less thing to worry about, then why not?”
These updates come as a very welcome change in the sporting world. From the Boston Marathon updating its pregnancy deferral policy, to World Athletics making conscious steps towards gender equality, it’s about time that women in sport felt heard and respected.