Wimbledon is set to relax its all-white dress code to allow female players to wear coloured underwear, following fresh criticism from Billie Jean King and Judy Murray that the rule creates anxiety for players when they are on their period.
The All England Club have banned players, both male and female, from wearing coloured underwear since 2014 as part of the traditional all-white policy, but discussions are underway over changing the rule ahead of next year’s Championships so that it only applies to the top layer of clothing.
Jean King, the six-time Wimbledon singles champion, has led calls for the tournament to relax its rules and follow changes made by other sports, such as women’s football teams changing their shorts from white to darker colours.
“My generation, we always worried because we wore all-white all the time,” King 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. You feel like you can breathe and not have to check on everything every minute when you sit down and change sides. So at least it’s been brought to the forefront, which I think is important to have discussion.”
Meanwhile Judy Murray, the former Great Britain FedCup captain and mother to Andy and Jamie Murray, said the all-white rule can lead to “fear” if players are on their period.
“I think it’s certainly a much more open talking point, 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,” Murray told the Daily Mail.
‘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.”
Following a report in the Daily Mailon the possible rule change, a statement from Wimbledon read: “Prioritising women’s health and supporting players based on their individual needs is very important to us and we are in discussions with the WTA, with manufacturers and with the medical teams about the ways in which we can do that.”
Wimbledon’s policy on all-white underwear currently states: “Any undergarments that either are or can be visible during play (including due to perspiration) must also be completely white except for a single trim of colour no wider than one centimetre (10mm). In addition, common standards of decency are required at all times.”