The Championships at Wimbledon have a long history of an all-white dress code that dates back to 1877, when the tennis tournament first started. But as of late, the strict way officials are enforcing it has been raising some eyebrows.
On Thursday, 18-year-old Austrian junior player Jurij Rodionov had the color of his underwear checked by a Wimbledon official while on court in front of a crowd. According to The Washington Post, Rodionov was asked to lower the waistband of his white shorts to reveal his underwear not once but twice, which took a total of 10 minutes. Eventually, they determined his gray undergarments to be too dark and he was sent off the court to change, presumably into a pair of tournament-provided white underwear.
The same thing happened to a top-seeded juniors doubles pair, who were sent off court to change underwear on Wednesday, after they were deemed too dark for the dress code.
As they currently stand, Wimbledon’s clothing and equipment rules do include a line about non-white underwear:
Any undergarments that either are or can be visible during play (including due to perspiration) must also be completely white except for a single trim of color no wider than one centimeter.
While Williams’s bra directly violated the dress code, as the straps peeked out from under her top, the juniors players’ undergarments were hidden under their shorts. However, if the athletes’ non-white clothing was visible because of movement during play or their shorts were becoming see-through due to sweat both could be interpreted as violating the rule.
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But why, do you ask, must Wimbledon be so strict about their all-white wear? “To us, the all-white rule isn’t about fashion, it’s about letting the players and the tennis stand out,” the tournament defended their dress code in a video last week. “If a player wants to get noticed, they must do so through their play. That’s a tradition we’re proud of.”
Tradition aside, maybe once the tournament asks women to expose their non-white thongs on the court, someone will have to draw a line.