The Most Famous Tennis Fashion Trends Throughout History: A Comprehensive Look in 2024

Tennis has always been a sport that has attracted attention not only for the game itself but also for the fashion trends that have emerged on the courts over the years. From the early days of tennis, when women wore dresses with high collars and long sleeves, to the modern era of colorful and functional athletic wear, tennis fashion has gone through many changes.

One of the most famous tennis fashion trends throughout history is the all-white dress code. Wimbledon, one of the most prestigious tennis tournaments in the world, has a strict dress code that requires players to wear white from head to toe. This tradition dates back to the early 20th century when tennis was considered a genteel sport that required proper attire. While other tournaments have since relaxed their dress codes, Wimbledon has remained steadfast in its all-white policy.

Another iconic tennis fashion trend is the short skirt worn by female players. In the 1940s and 1950s, tennis skirts were long and full, but as the game became more physical and demanding, shorter skirts and shorts became more popular. Today, many female players wear skirts that are just above the knee or even shorter, allowing for greater freedom of movement on the court.

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03/30/2024 11:28 am GMT

The Birth of Tennis Fashion

Tennis fashion has come a long way since the game’s inception in the late 19th century. In the Victorian era, tennis was known as lawn tennis, and it was a sport primarily played by the upper class. Women’s tennis attire at the time was heavily influenced by the fashion of the day, with dresses featuring high collars and long sleeves.

One notable early tennis player was Charlotte “Lottie” Dod, who won the Wimbledon Ladies’ Singles Championship five times between 1887 and 1893. Dod was known for her unconventional tennis attire, which included a calf-length skirt and a floppy hat. Her outfit was a far cry from the traditional school uniform-inspired tennis attire of the time.

As tennis gained popularity, so did its fashion. In the early 1900s, tennis attire became more standardized, with both men and women wearing all-white clothing. The all-white attire was seen as a symbol of purity and virtue, and it also helped players stay cool in the sun.

In 1922, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, which hosts the Wimbledon Championships, introduced a rule requiring players to wear all-white clothing. The rule still stands today, with a few exceptions for colored trim on collars and cuffs.

Tennis fashion continued to evolve throughout the 20th century. In the 1970s, tennis players began to wear shorter skirts and shorts, inspired by the fashion of the time. In the 1980s, tennis fashion was heavily influenced by the bright colors and bold patterns of the era.

Robert J. Lake, in his book “A Social History of Tennis in Britain,” notes that tennis fashion has always been about more than just function. It is also a way for players to express their personalities and individuality on the court.

Tennis Attire in the Early 20th Century

tennis fashion in the early 1900s

In the early 1900s, tennis attire for women was quite different than what we see today. Women played tennis in long skirts, stockings, and long-sleeved tops. This attire was restrictive and made it difficult for women to move around the court with ease.

However, in 1919, French tennis player Suzanne Lenglen made waves when she appeared on the court in a calf-length, sleeveless dress. Her dress was designed by French fashion designer Jean Patou and was made of lightweight cotton. This dress allowed Lenglen to move freely and comfortably on the court, and it quickly became popular among female tennis players.

The introduction of cotton as a material for tennis dresses was a significant development in the early 20th century. Cotton was lightweight and breathable, making it an ideal fabric for athletes. It allowed players to move more freely and stay cool and comfortable during matches.

As tennis continued to gain popularity, more attention was paid to the fashion and style of tennis attire. Women’s tennis dresses became shorter and more form-fitting, allowing for greater mobility on the court.

The Influence of Lacoste and Fred Perry

Lacoste tennis polo shirt

Lacoste and Fred Perry are two iconic brands that have had a significant impact on tennis fashion trends throughout history. René Lacoste, a French tennis player, created the first polo shirt in 1926, which was initially called the “tennis shirt.” The design of the polo shirt overcame many of the problems associated with traditional tennis attire. The short sleeves solved the problem of long flapping sleeves, the neck could be easily unbuttoned and loosened, and the collar could be worn turned up to protect the neck from the sun.

The crocodile logo on the Lacoste polo shirt has become one of the most recognizable logos in the world. The logo was inspired by René Lacoste’s nickname, “The Crocodile,” which was given to him by the American press after he made a bet with the captain of the French Davis Cup team over a crocodile-skin suitcase. The logo has become synonymous with the brand and is a symbol of the sport and the lifestyle associated with it.

Fred Perry, another tennis player, also made a significant contribution to tennis fashion. Perry won Wimbledon three times in the 1930s and was the first player to win all four Grand Slam events. He was also the first player to wear a sweatband on his wrist, which has since become a staple in tennis fashion. Perry’s clothing line was launched in the late 1940s and was an instant success. The brand’s laurel wreath logo has become as iconic as the crocodile logo.

Lacoste and Fred Perry are both tennis-court staples, and while the grass courts of Wimbledon are where they first claimed fame, the stories of how the two brands have since grown could not be more different. Lacoste has become a global brand that is associated with sport, fashion, and lifestyle, while Fred Perry has remained a niche brand that is loved by those who appreciate its heritage and authenticity.

Tennis Fashion in the 1960s and 1970s

During the 1960s and 1970s, tennis fashion underwent a significant transformation. With the rise of the mod fashion movement, tennis outfits became more colorful and playful. Women’s tennis outfits also became shorter, allowing for greater freedom of movement on the court.

One of the most influential figures in tennis fashion during this period was Ted Tinling. Tinling was a British designer who created some of the most iconic tennis outfits of the era. He was known for his use of bold colors and patterns, as well as his innovative use of fabrics like denim.

One of Tinling’s most famous designs was the “tennis dress”, which was worn by Billie Jean King during the historic “Battle of the Sexes” match against Bobby Riggs in 1973. The dress was made of a lightweight fabric and featured a pleated skirt and a scooped neckline. It was both stylish and functional, allowing King to move freely on the court while still looking fashionable.

Another notable trend in tennis fashion during the 1960s and 1970s was the use of pastel colors. Players like Maureen Connolly and Virginia Wade were known for wearing outfits in soft shades of pink, blue, and yellow. These colors were a departure from the more traditional white tennis outfits of the past and helped to usher in a new era of fashion in the sport.

Iconic Tennis Fashion Statements

tennis fashion icon Anna Kournikova

Tennis fashion has always been an integral part of the sport, with players using their attire to express themselves and make bold statements. Over the years, several players have made iconic fashion statements that have left a lasting impact on the game’s fashion culture.

One of the most notable players who made a statement with their fashion is Andre Agassi. In the 1990s, Agassi was known for his flamboyant and colorful outfits that included neon shorts and a denim jacket. His unique style earned him the nickname “The Punisher” and made him stand out on the court.

Another player who made a statement with her fashion is Serena Williams. Williams has always been known for her bold and daring outfits that push the boundaries of traditional tennis attire. One of her most iconic outfits was the “catsuit” she wore at the 2018 French Open, which was banned by the tournament organizers.

Venus Williams is also known for her fashion-forward approach to tennis attire. In 2010, she made headlines when she wore a dress that had a sheer panel in the front, revealing her skin-colored shorts underneath. The outfit was designed by her own fashion line, EleVen.

Maria Sharapova is another player who has made a statement with her fashion choices. In 2006, she wore a Swarovski-encrusted dress designed by Nike at the US Open, which caused quite a stir. The dress was reportedly worth $5000 and weighed 2.4 pounds.

In addition to these players, there have been several other iconic fashion moments in tennis history. In 1985, Anne White caused a stir at Wimbledon when she wore a body-hugging Lycra spandex, all-in-one jumpsuit, which was considered one of the most iconic fashion statements on a tennis court. Gussie Moran also made a statement in 1949 when she wore lace-trimmed panties at Wimbledon, which was considered scandalous at the time.

In recent years, fashion designers have also made their mark on tennis fashion. Japanese brand Sacai collaborated with Nike to create a unique collection for the 2021 French Open, which featured asymmetrical skirts and layered tops. Designer Kesha McLeod also collaborated with Adidas to create a line of tennis attire that incorporates bold prints and bright colors.

Trends in Modern Tennis Fashion

bright tennis shoes

Tennis fashion has come a long way since the days of all-white tennis attire. Today, tennis apparel is more diverse and reflects the changing trends in fashion. In recent years, there have been several trends in modern tennis fashion that have caught the attention of fans and fashion enthusiasts alike.

One of the most notable trends in modern tennis fashion is the use of bright tennis shoes. Players are no longer limited to white tennis shoes, and many now opt for bright, eye-catching colors that add a pop of personality to their outfits. Virgil Abloh, the artistic director of Louis Vuitton and Off-White, has also made a significant impact on tennis fashion. Abloh has collaborated with Nike to create unique tennis shoes and apparel that combine style and comfort.

Another trend in modern tennis fashion is the use of off-white. While all-white tennis attire is still a staple at many tournaments, some players have started to experiment with off-white clothing. Off-white provides a subtle alternative to all-white and adds a touch of sophistication to tennis apparel.

Comfort is also a significant consideration in modern tennis fashion. Players need to be able to move freely on the court, and as such, tennis apparel is designed to be lightweight and breathable. Many tennis brands now incorporate advanced technologies in their clothing to enhance comfort, such as moisture-wicking fabrics and ventilation systems.

Celebrity influence has also played a role in modern tennis fashion. Serena Williams made headlines in 2018 when she wore a black catsuit at the French Open. The catsuit was designed to help prevent blood clots, but it also made a bold fashion statement. Other celebrities, such as Meghan Markle, have also been known to wear tennis-inspired clothing.

Finally, accessories have become an essential part of modern tennis fashion. Players often wear visors to protect their eyes from the sun, and some even wear leather or fur wristbands for added style. Green has also become a popular color for tennis accessories, with many players opting for green wristbands or headbands to add a pop of color to their outfits.

The Role of Technology in Tennis Fashion

white bright tennis shoes

Technology has played a significant role in the evolution of tennis fashion. The use of advanced materials and innovative designs has transformed the way tennis players dress on the court. The following paragraphs will explore the impact of technology on tennis fashion.

Mobility is a crucial factor in tennis, and technology has made it easier for players to move around the court. Lightweight and breathable fabrics have replaced heavy and restrictive materials, allowing players to move more freely. The use of moisture-wicking materials has also become common, as it helps players stay dry and comfortable during intense matches.

Active sportswear is another area where technology has made significant contributions to tennis fashion. The use of compression garments has become popular, as it helps improve blood flow and reduce muscle fatigue. Tennis players also wear specialized shoes that provide better support and traction on the court.

Practicality is another important aspect of tennis fashion, and technology has made it possible for players to carry all their equipment in one place. Tennis bags are designed to be lightweight, durable, and spacious, allowing players to carry their rackets, balls, and other accessories with ease.

FAQ

How has clothing changed in tennis?

Tennis fashion has evolved significantly over the years. In the early days of tennis, players wore long-sleeved shirts, trousers, and dresses that covered their entire body. As the sport became more popular, players started to wear more comfortable and practical clothing. In the 1920s, women began to wear shorter skirts and sleeveless dresses, which allowed for greater freedom of movement. In the 1960s, tennis players started to wear more colorful and stylish outfits, with bright colors and bold patterns becoming more popular. Today, tennis fashion has become a major part of the sport, with many players wearing designer clothing and accessories on the court. Clothing is now designed to be lightweight, breathable, and moisture-wicking, allowing players to perform at their best.

What era were tennis skirts popular?

Tennis skirts have been a popular fashion trend since the 1920s, when women started to wear shorter skirts and sleeveless dresses on the court. In the 1950s and 1960s, tennis skirts became even more popular, with many female players opting for shorter, more fitted styles. In the 1970s, tennis skirts became even shorter, with some players wearing skirts that barely covered their hips.

What did tennis players wear in the 1920s?

In the 1920s, tennis players wore long-sleeved shirts, trousers, and dresses that covered their entire body. Women’s tennis dresses were typically made from heavy fabrics like wool or flannel, which could be uncomfortable and restrictive on the court. Men’s tennis clothing was also quite formal, with players wearing blazers, ties, and long trousers. In the mid-1920s, women’s tennis fashion began to change, with shorter skirts and sleeveless dresses becoming more popular. These new styles allowed for greater freedom of movement on the court, and were more comfortable and practical for female players. By the end of the decade, women’s tennis fashion had become much more modern and functional, paving the way for the stylish and practical clothing that is worn by tennis players today.


 What’s your favorite tennis outfit or accessory and why? Are there any trends or styles that you’re excited to see on the court this season? Share your thoughts and opinions on the topic in the comments section below.

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Alexander Krause
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