The Australian Open 2020 has ended a month back. We saw the emergence of a new female champion in Sofia Kenin of the United States. While the case most of the female tennis players wearing skirts as the popular dress continues, it was again a topic of discussion among the tennis community and press.
Many experts and commentators would raise the debate about tennis players wearing skirts on court rather than shorts. Some favour there is nothing wrong in continuing the tradition, while others say a dress switch over in the need of times. In this article we look at the most obvious reasons of skirts as more popular choice for ladies in tennis. We also analyse if the time to change this unwritten dress code norm has come.
THE CULTURAL HANGOVER
There is no written rule in tennis that tells women to necessarily wear skirts or any dress for that matter. The popular practise of female tennis players wearing skirts is more rooted in culture and tradition. When women started playing tennis in 1860s, a longer version skirts were more in vogue.
With time and improvisation in the attire, the length of these shorts lessened, primarily to improve looks and comfort. There was also an element of identity and standing out. French tennis star Suzanne Lenglen made the shortened tennis skirts more popular in 1920s.
The choice of female tennis players wearing skirts was somewhere rooted in looking different. While men had tee shirts and shorts as the standard dress, women preferred to have something of their own. The choice was more apparent at Wimbledon where female tennis players wearing skirts of designer labels drove everyone in awe. This made skirts a sort of historic and traditional dress code for female players. Gradually this apparel carried forward over the year and has now become a sort of signature tennis court dress for ladies.
IS IT THE TIME FOR WOMEN START WEARING SHORTS?
Although female players wearing skirts is still the most familiar sight on tennis court many are now starting to question the tradition. The Latvian tennis starlet Jelena Ostepanko came out wearing shorts and tees at Wimbledon 2018 and there was nothing that suggested violation of rules. The great Serena Williams wore a cat suit at 2018 French Open. This was far away than the tradition of tennis players wearing skirts while playing matches.
Today many past players as well as tennis pundits consider the tradition of tennis players wearing skirts only as conservative and unnecessary. As in athletic sports like tennis also demands players to wear dress that is most comfortable, helps in moving, sliding and starching fast.
Some women tennis players may feel better in wearing short skirts only but this should not be treated as a universal dress code for the starlets in the sport. Tee shirts and shorts can be put on by those who wish to do so. The hour to bash this gender oriented dress code in tennis has come. It is time to accept this and ensure flexibility in the on-court attire.