Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Tennis Fashion Evolution

King Henry VIII builds a tennis court at Hampton Court Palace and commissions suits—most likely “tall stockings, short blist’red breeches,” as in Shakespeare’s Henry VIII—for the ensuing matches. 

An illustration of a game of Real Tennis being played during the time of King Henry VII, circa 1500.

An illustration of a game of Real Tennis being played during the time of King Henry VII, circa 1500

A sturdy canvas and rubber shoe called a croquet sandal is introduced and sells for six dollars a pair, making it too expensive for all but the very wealthy. The shoe later became known as the tennis shoe. The original sneaker offers players a solution to unsightly grass stains. 


Women dress in aristocratic style—ground-grazing skirts with voluminous bustles, corsets, high necklines, and floppy hats. The game is rechristened “pat ball” as women gingerly tap the ball over the net. 


Suzanne Lenglen wins Wimbledon in a knee-length dress with three-quarter sleeves and a widely imitated bandeau. (Women reportedly walk out, calling the display “shocking.”) Suzanne was the first woman to play without a corset under her tennis dress
 Bare-armed Suzanne Lenglen was a trailblazer

Big Bill Tilden ushers in the golden age of tennis sporting a preppy array of cable knits and V-neck sweaters

Sandy Wiener and Bill Tilden on the courts in 1923 (Library of Congress)

René Lacoste earns the nickname “the Crocodile” after he makes a pre-match bet over a crocodile-skin suitcase. He later has a croc emblem embroidered onto his shirts and blazers. 

René Lacoste wearing the first "crocodile" which will become an icon. Forest Hill, 1927

Helen Jacobs breaks out Bermuda shorts at Forest Hills. The Prince of Wales later weighs in: “They are ... quite the most practical costume for the game, and I don’t think the wearers lose anything in looks.”

Helen Jacobs at Wimbledon, 1933.  

“Gorgeous” Gussy Moran asked the Wimbledon organizers if she could wear colored clothing. Her request was turned down, so tennis fashion designer Ted Tinling created a dress incorporating lace-trimmed knickers which even triggered a debate in parliament.
Photographers lie flat on the ground in order to shoot her knickers.
Gertrude "Gorgeous Gussy" Moran
Gertrude "Gorgeous Gussy" Moran

Karol Fageros was raising eyebrows at the All England Club - with her gold lame underpants. She was immediately kicked out of the tournament, but earned a reprieve when she agreed to cover up her sparkly undies with some more demure white lace.

 Karol Fageros (Pic:Getty Images)

Arthur Ashe wins the first U.S. Open sporting an ahead-of-its-time hipster ensemble: short shorts and bookish black-rimmed glasses.


Television viewers complain that they can’t tell the players apart in their all-white suits. For the first time, the U.S. Open permits pastel

Sweatband-wearing Swedish heartthrob Björn Borg takes the first of five consecutive Wimbledons. Later, he founds a clothing line known for its boldly patterned underwear

diadora elite bb retro bjorn borg 2 Diadora Elite BB Retro 


An unusually festive John McEnroe wins his first Wimbledon singles title on the Fourth of July wearing a blue-and-white striped polo shirt, matching tube socks, and a red sweatband.

John McEnroe winning his first Wimbledon in 1981

Leggy blonde Anne White takes the court at Wimbledon in a curve-hugging white unitard, distracting her opponent, Pam Shriver. Though the attire satisfies requirements, officials request that she dress more traditionally the following day.


Chris Evert halts play at the U.S. Open when she loses her diamond-studded wristlet on the court. Jewelers like Tiffany & Co. and Bulgari promptly create their own versions of the “tennis bracelet.”


Andre Agassi plays the French Open in hot pink. The tournament’s director says he might institute a white-clothing rule. Agassi calls him a “bozo” and segues, briefly, into a lime-green phase.


In a hotly anticipated moment, Agassi removes his warm-up suit at Wimbledon to reveal an all-white ensemble, with white Lycra shorts peeking out from under white denim; the crowd erupts in applause.

Andre Agassi in action at Wimbledon in 1991

U.S. Open champ Serena Williams plays in a shiny, skintight black bodysuit: the infamous “catsuit.”


Bethanie Mattek arrives at the U.S. Open poured into a formfitting leopard-print ensemble. She loses, but continues to dress for future Opens as though attending a Halloween party.

Maria Sharapova fails to defend her U.S. Open title despite wearing a Nike dress encrusted with 600 Swarovski crystals, inspired by the Manhattan skyline. The bright red-flame color represents the Big Apple.


Tatiana Golovin became the forth woman (after Gussie Moran, Karol Fageros and Anne White) who shocked British public, as she broke the rule of "mainly white" Wimbeldon dress code by wearing red knickers.

Tatiana Golovin

Venus Williams has been constantly raising eyebrows by wearing skin-colored hotpants during Australian Open, then wearing the same hotpants with the dress which according to "better suited for a dancer at the Moulin Rouge", and choosing to wear form-fitting pink, sequined dress with matching bedazzled shorts during the US Open.

January 26, 2010. Venus Williams (USA) plays against Na Li (CHI) during day 10 of the 2010 Australian Open at Melbourne Park in Melbourne, Australia. Venus caused quite the stir when she chose to wear flesh colored shorts underneath her dress during her match. Venus took to her twitter to say, "I am wearing undershorts the same color as my skin, so it gives the slits in my dress the full effect". 


Used info from and pictures from different sources from the web.

Like this article? Subscribe to my RSS feed


Do you mind if I quote a few of your posts as long as I provide credit and sources back
to your site? My website is in the very same area of interest as yours and my users
would certainly benefit from a lot of the information you provide here.
Please let me know if this okay with you. Appreciate it!

my site :: history nike

Post a Comment

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...