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Wimbledon to Ease All-White Apparel Rule


By Richard Pagliaro | Thursday, November 17, 2022

Wimbledon will welcome color beneath its all-white apparel.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club announced a historic rule change today: it will ease its iconic all-white clothing rule for women and girls at Wimbledon.

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Starting in 2023, women and girls will be permitted to wear colored underwear beneath all-white apparel.

The rule change comes in response to requests from WTA players and coaches.

The grass-court Grand Slam made the change in an effort reduce anxiety women and girls experience playing Wimbledon during their menstrual cycles.

“We are committed to supporting the players and listening to their feedback as to how they can perform at their best. I’m pleased to confirm that, following consultation with players and representatives of several stakeholder groups, the Committee of Management has taken the decision to update the white clothing rule at Wimbledon,” All England Club Chief Executive Sally Bolton said in a statement. “This means that from next year, women and girls competing at The Championships will have the option of wearing colored undershorts if they choose.

"It is our hope that this rule adjustment will help players focus purely on their performance by relieving a potential source of anxiety.” 

For years, some women players have implored the club to relax the rule because of the anxiety of wearing all white while on their periods.


 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Wimbledon (@wimbledon)



Hall of Famer Billie Jean King told CNN women players “live in tension” wearing all white on court during their periods.

"In my generation we were always worried about wearing white all the time,” King told CNN. “And what you wear is important when you are going through the menstrual period. And we always check if it's being seen.

“You live in tension because the first thing we are people who entertain, and you want to be immaculate and look fantastic. We are cheerleaders and we want to convey our spirits to the people.”

Judy Murray, former British Fed Cup captain and mom of Andy Murray and Jamie Murray, has advocated for the rule change saying wearing all white on court can make women fearful on court and cause trauma.

“I think it’s certainly a much more open talking point,” Judy Murray told the media in Glasgow prior to last week's Billie Jean King Cup finals.

“But it would probably need more of the players to speak out openly about the trauma it can cause you, if you are wearing all white and then possibly have a leak while you’re playing. I cannot think of a much more traumatic experience than that.”

Judy Murray says if more players speak out on this issue, then change will come.

“When all matches are televised and streamed now, it is something that needs to be considered. It’s one of those things, when something like that becomes a talking point, decisions have to be made on it. However, it’s really important, too, that we have lots of women on the decision-making panel, because they understand what that’s like to have menstrual cycles and they understand the fear of that happening while playing.”

Bolton, the first female All England Club CEO in history, listened to the concerns from the WTA and acted.

The grass-court Grand Slam has applied stricter enforcement of the all-white rule in recent years, even extending to underwear.

If you're wondering, why does Wimbledon have an all-white rule when other Grand Slams don’t.

Tradition is the most common reason, but it goes deeper than that.

The tournament says its all-white apparel rule is really about showcasing tennis.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club said in a statement a few years back the all-white apparel rule is not about fashion it’s about form.

“To us, the all-white rule isn’t about fashion, it’s about letting the players and the tennis stand out,” the Club said in a statement.

“Everyone who steps on a Wimbledon court, from a reigning champion through to qualifier does so wearing white. That’s a great leveler. If a player wants to get noticed, they must do so through their play. That’s a tradition we’re proud of.”

Photo credit: Rob Newell/CameraSport

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