Wimbledon under pressure to change 'horrible' dress-code policy

Billie Jean King is pictured left, with 2022 Wimbledon winner Elena Rybakina holding the trophy aloft in the right.
Wimbledon is mulling a change to its notoriously strict dress code thanks to pressure from Billie Jean King, as well as a handful of other female players. Pictures: Getty Images

Wimbledon has made indications its dress code code for female players could be changed amid ongoing pressure to alleviate anxiety for players who may be on their period during the tournament.

The All England club's notoriously strict all-white dress code has long been a bone of contention for female players, many of whom have publicly said they opt to skip their period for Wimbledon to spare themselves the risk of embarrassment.

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The dress code requires all players, including women, to wear white undergarments - with Romania's Mihaela Buzarnescu forced to change her bra prior to her first round match at Wimbledon in 2022 because it was red.

Many other players - including Australia's Daria Saville and former champion Monica Puig, as well as Judy Murray, have spoken out against Wimbledon's strict all-white dress policy in the past.

The All-England Club is reportedly considering relaxing that rule in the wake of recent comments from tennis legend Billie Jean King, who told CNN it was simply unfair to add an entirely unnecessary layer of stress for women's players.

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

"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."

King's comments, combined with pressure from players as well as some protestors at this year's grand slam, appear to be changing minds among organisers.

The All England Club released a statement soon after King's interview gained traction, saying they were working with stakeholders on the best way forward.

“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,” the statement read.

Players speak up against Wimbledon's strict dress code

While players understand that Wimbledon's white dress code helps it stand out against the three other grand slams, which do not enforce such a requirement, there has been a strong push for Wimbledon to embrace common sense over the issue.

Saville was among those to speak up, admitting she had skipped her period at Wimbledon for fear of a red mark being revealed inadvertently, despite her fondness for the white uniforms.

“Recently just being at Wimbledon, I was talking with my friends saying that I love the all-white look. But then a few girls said they hate it because it sucks to wear all white while being on your period,” she said.

“It’s true, I myself had to skip my period around Wimbledon, for the reason that I didn’t want to worry about bleeding through, as we already have enough other stress.”

Olympic golf medallist Puig echoed Saville's comments in a post on Twitter during the grand slam earlier this year.

Similarly Judy Murray, the mother and coach of Scottish champion Andy Murray, said she hoped more players would speak out about the potentially 'traumatic' rule.

“I think it’s certainly a much more open talking point, 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,” she said.

Protestors also attended this year's Wimbledon tournament, holding up signs painted in red which read 'address the dress code'.

"You feel like you can breathe and not have to check on everything every minute when you sit down and change sides," King added, when asked about wearing darker undergarments.

"So at least it's been brought to the forefront, which I think is important to have discussion."

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