Why Is It Necessary to Wear Whites at Wimbledon Championships?

Published 06/22/2021, 7:47 AM EDT
LONDON, ENGLAND – JULY 10: Serena Williams of the United States celebrates after beating Camila Giorgi of Italy in the ladies’ quarter final at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on July 10, 2018 in London, England. (Photo by TPN/Getty Images)


Century-old traditions have been the hallmark of everything about Wimbledon Championships. From the traditional grass-court surface, the Royal Box, advertisement-free courts, to almost “entirely white” tennis attire and consuming strawberries and cream, all have a history. Naturally, the oldest tennis tournament has attained the honor of one of the world’s most prestigious sporting events.

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It indeed brings many questions to mind, but the most intriguing one of them all is, why all whites? Apart from being a dress code, there is an ingenious reason why players at the Championships have to adhere to its strict clothing rule.

Read More: All You Need to Know About Strawberries Served at Wimbledon Championships

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Why is Wimbledon Championships strict about wearing whites only?

The Championships, Wimbledon, began in 1877 when the Victorian Era was still around in the United Kingdom. Thus, appearing “incredibly proper” in public was of utmost significance in those times. More importantly, the sweat patches on clothes had to go.

LONDON, ENGLAND – July 14: Roger Federer of Switzerland in action against Novak Djokovic of Serbia during the Men’s Singles Final on Centre Court during the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club at Wimbledon on July 14, 2019, in London, England. (Photo by Tim Clayton/Corbis via Getty Images)

But since tennis is a physical sport, avoiding sweat marks was impracticable. So the All England Club drafted a rule of wearing white as the plain color covered the patches and allowed breathability even in the scorching heat. Meredith Richards, the librarian at the International Tennis Hall of Fame, explained, “It was actually considered improper to sweat.”

From then on, Wimbledon has updated its policy quite a few times to maintain its tradition. Conversely, many players and their brands have tried to go past it, but all in vain.

LONDON, ENGLAND – JUNE 29: Milos Raonic of Canada shows his dejection during his Gentlemen’s Singles second round match against Sam Querrey of USA on day five of the Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 29, 2012, in London, England. (Photo by Paul Gilham/Getty Images)

According to the current clothing and equipment requirements, players must wear “suitable tennis attire that is almost entirely white” near the courts. Notably, a single trim of color except is allowed as long as it doesn’t cross stretch more than one cm.

Read More: THROWBACK: Serena Williams Received $10K Fine for Damaging Court at Wimbledon Championships

Roger Federer, Serena Williams, and others challenging Wimbledon dress code

Furthermore, the white cannot be “off white or cream” according to rule 2. These rules apply to all clothing accessories of the players, including undergarments. Also, medical support and equipment have similar requirements but are open to exceptions.

Infamously, the 1992 Wimbledon champion Andre Agassi boycotted the Championships from 1988 to 1990 due to the dress code that he did not agree with.

After Swiss maestro Roger Federer sported orange shoe soles during the 2013 Wimbledon, the organizers later added shoes in the clothing requirements.

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The list also includes the Williams sisters Serena Williams and Venus Williams, who indirectly helped the rule become more stringent. Let’s see what the tennis stars will wear at the upcoming Wimbledon Championships 2021.

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Watch this story: Rafael Nadal, Roger Federer, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Others in Controversial Wimbledon Outfits

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Purav Joshi

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Purav Joshi is a Tennis author at EssentiallySports. Having a degree in Films, Television and Media Production, he guided his passion for writing and journalism into the sport of aces and rallies. With over 2 years of experience as a copywriter, Purav has authored over 500 tennis articles.

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