Wimbledon to relax underwear rules for female players

white dress wimbledon - Heathcliff O
white dress wimbledon - Heathcliff O'Malley  

The All England Club is poised to relax its strict rule on all-white underwear after concerns about the anxiety experienced by female players during their menstrual cycles.

The issue was highlighted by a protest outside the gates of Wimbledon this summer, which used the slogan "Address the dress code". The organisers said that the "archaic" tradition was making life unnecessarily difficult for women in tennis. Last week, former British Fed Cup captain Judy Murray added her voice to the critics calling for a rethink.

Now insiders suggest that Wimbledon's organisers are finally ready to listen. The all-white dress code is likely to be relaxed next summer so that it only applies to the top layer of clothing.

In a statement, the AELTC said "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."

A protest was staged at Wimbledon in 2022 decrying the strict all-white dress code - Heathcliff O
A protest was staged at Wimbledon in 2022 decrying the strict all-white dress code - Heathcliff O'Malley  

The all-white code has been strictly policed in recent years. In one incident this summer, Mihaela Buzarnescu of Romania had to switch bras with her coach a few minutes before her match was due to start, after being pulled up by officials because her own bra was black.

"My bustier was too black and I had to change it," said Buzarnescu after her match. "The white one I had was too transparent and you could see everything underneath and I couldn't wear it, so I borrowed from my coach, I took her bustier."

In an earlier incident dating back to 2007, Tatiana Golovin made headlines when she took the court in bright red shorts underneath her white skirt. Golovin told Telegraph Sport this summer that she had not been planning to make a stand on the issue. Instead, she had simply forgotten to change clothing after her warm-up. But she still keeps the notorious shorts in the loft of her Paris home.

Tatiana Golovin
Tatiana Golovin's red shorts inspired protestors at this year's championships - Steve Parsons/PA  

While Wimbledon has traditionally been run by men, it now has a female chief executive - Sally Bolton - and is expected to appoint its first female chairman in the next month or two if Debbie Jevans sees off her rivals for the post.

This growing influence from women behind the scenes may be connected to the expected climbdown.

Speaking last week at a female leadership event in Glasgow - which was organised as part of the build-up to Tuesday's Billie Jean King Cup finals - Judy Murray pinpointed the importance of female administrators in making life more comfortable on the women's tour.

"I think it's certainly a much more open talking point," said Murray, "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.

"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."


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