Billie Jean King hopes Wimbledon changes its ‘horrible’ all-white uniform policy

·2-min read
Emma Raducanu Wimbledon Credit: Alamy
Emma Raducanu Wimbledon Credit: Alamy

If you are a woman, you will be familiar with that feeling of unease when you are on your period. Now imagine how women’s tennis players feel when they have to wear white when competing at Wimbledon.

It is no surprise that tennis great Billie Jean King describes the All England Lawn Tennis Club’s (AELTC) all-white dress code as one of her “pet peeves”.

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Wearing white at tennis tournaments apparently dates back to the late Victorian Era in the 1870s and AELTC has enforced that policy strictly at SW19 over the years.

The official rulebook states: “Competitors must be dressed in suitable tennis attire that is almost entirely white and this applies from the point at which the player enters the court surround. White does not include off white or cream.”

But there have been calls for change in recent years, especially women who feel anxious when having to compete in a white outfit when on their period.

Earlier this year Australia’s Daria Saville admitted that she is forced to skip her period during Wimbledon while campaigners also protested ahead of the women’s final between Elena Rybakina and Ons Jabeur about the outdated policy.

And now tennis icon King has shared her thoughts on the issue.

“My generation, we always worried because we wore all white all the time,” she told CNN. “And it’s what you wear underneath that’s important for your menstrual period.

“And we’re always checking whether we’re showing. You get tense about it because the first thing we are is entertainers and you want whatever you wear to look immaculate, look great. We’re entertainers. We’re bringing it to the people.”

The 12-time Grand Slam winner added: “”Nothing is worse in sports than when you turn on the television and two players are wearing the same uniform or same outfits. It’s horrible. No one knows who’s who.

“This is one of my pet peeves, I’ve been yelling for years. Have you ever seen any sport where the people wear the same outfit on each side?”

There has been talk that AELTC could relax its strict rule and allow women to wear darker clothes underneath their main attire, something that King would welcome.

“You feel like you can breathe and not have to check on everything every minute when you sit down and change sides,” the American said.

“So at least it’s been brought to the forefront, which I think is important to have discussion.”

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