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Wimbledon Whites Through The Ages

posted on Thursday, 3rd July 2014 | find under Fashion , Nutrition
After nearly two weeks of excitement, disappointment and of course, style, the world’s oldest tennis tournament draws to a close this weekend. So what have been the highlights?

Alize Cornet of France smashing her way to success over 5-time Wimbledon champion Serena Williams, for one! Seeded 25, not only did the French player surprise the world with her skills on the court, but she also caught the eye of the Sweaty Betty team for her ribbed-collar sleeveless tennis dress complete with on-trend mesh detailing (that is not unlike our own Ace Tennis Polo - currently in sale!)

With her look so flawlessly combining flattering style with sporting functionality, Sweaty Betty took a look back through the archives at how the traditional Wimbledon whites have changed and evolved from long skirts and corset tops, to the fashion-centric pieces we see today…


1905 – May Sutton-Bundy caused a stir in 1905 when she rolled up her sleeves to cooldown, thereby revealing her wrists. The long skirts, heavy fabrics and corset tops that were worn during the 1900s with waist-cinching belts, must have made moving across the court a challenge!

1913 – British champion Dorothea Lambert-Chambers won Wimbledon an incredible 7 times; all while wearing two stiff petticoats and corsets. Not the most comfortable of workout ensembles…

1925 – The arrival of the 1920s saw a shift in women’s tennis looks – ridding the women of long, binding outfits in favour of shorter, looser-fitting skirts.

1933 – As seen on Californian player Helen Wills Moody, 1930’s tennis style came with flattering silhouettes and more tailored fits, with pleats and shorter hem lines for added movement and femininity.

1940s – Katharine Hepburn was responsible for changing women’s tennis fashion during the 1940s when she opted for higher-waisted designs that flattered her physique. She was also the first to mix it up with shorts rather than sticking with the traditional tennis skirt. In 1949, Gussy Moran debuted the first lacy knickers to be worn under tennis skirts – a trend that many female tennis players still adopt today.

1953 – This decade saw a style throwback to the early 1900s with cinched waists and demure cardigans, as seen on Maureen Connolly Brinker.

1960s – Women on the court first began wearing skirts above the knee, paired with collared tees. Wimbledon champions Maria Bueno and Billie Jean King were at the forefront of this trend.

1974 – Chris Evert was one of many female tennis players to take the skirts shorter with more flattering, tighter fits and pops of colour. The disco fashion trend of the 70s showed up on the court with slightly flared skirts and oversized collars.

1985 – Players got a little more daring with their on-court outfits, either with more colour or very different designs. Anne White’s Wimbledon catsuit is a model example. Despite following the all-white rules, she was asked never to wear the catsuit to Wimbledon again.

1999 – The 1990s saw the arrival of more breathable, lightweight fabrics and even shorter skirts, as seen on Steffi Graf at Wimbledon in 1999.

2002 – As seen here on Anna Kournikova, by the early 2000s, skirts had risen a few inches more and very fitted, matching two-pieces were standard on the court.

2010 – Gussy Moran wearing eye-catching underwear beneath the tennis skirt was taken up a notch by Serena Williams. Many female players began sporting vibrantly-coloured underwear – so much so that this year (2014), players were asked to wear only white underwear beneath their kit.

2011-2014 – Mesh panels and more fashion-forward designs have begun showing up on the court, with Maria Sharapova’s tuxedo top in 2011 and Alize Cornet’s ribbed-collar tennis dress in 2014 being two standout examples.
Tennis - as styled by Sweaty Betty...

Find out all on the inspirations behind the SS14 tennis line plus the designer’s favourite pieces here.
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