After strong campaigns, protests, and players speaking up, Wimbledon has finally relaxed its famously strict dress code by allowing female players to wear dark-coloured undershorts if they want to while playing.
The new amendment has come into effect after many players had spoken up about the anxiety of playing tennis while worrying about bleeding through their white skirts when they’re menstruating. Now, the tournament and its organisers have announced that female players can choose to wear darker undershorts beneath their skirts or shorts if they want.
“It is our hope that this rule adjustment will help players focus purely on their performance by relieving a potential source of anxiety,” said Sally Bolton, chief executive of the All England Club.
Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam that has a rigid dress code. Before the exception was added, the rules stated that the players would wear only white ensembles, clarifying explicitly that white does not mean cream or off-white. However, a single trim of colour around the neckline and the cuff of sleeves was allowed, provided it was no wider than one centimetre.
This July’s Wimbledon saw protestors wearing red undershorts underneath white skirts. The protestors arrived at the tournament holding signs that had messages, including “About bloody time”, and “Address the dress code”.
Many athletes have also spoken up about the issue, like former Puerto Rican player Monica Puig. She took to Twitter to talk about how the mental stress about periods can affect their performances too.
Definitely something that affects female athletes! Finally bringing it to everyone’s attention! Not to mention the mental stress of having to wear all white at Wimbledon and praying not to have your period during those two weeks. https://t.co/PzyHnPlSJk— Monica Puig (@MonicaAce93) May 31, 2022
Australian player Daria Saville revealed that she has had to alter her period specifically because of the tournament’s strict dress codes.
Tennis legend Billie Jean King also weighed in on the issue in an interview with CNN. King revealed that even during her time, menstruating players were worried about bleeding into their tennis whites.
“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,” said King. She also spoke about how having all the players in full white ensembles is needlessly confusing for the viewers.
The new exception will come into effect during the 136th staging of the tournament in July 2023.