Why do female tennis players have to wear skirts?

Why do female tennis players have to wear skirts?

The Origin of Skirts in Tennis

Have you ever paused and found yourself asking, "Why do female tennis players have to wear skirts?" Maybe you're a tennis enthusiast or a fashion curious wondering why attire in tennis might seem unbalanced? Well, as Victor, your typical Sydney lover of racket sports and occasional fashion commentator, I embarked on a quest to decode this age-old tradition. It's funny how I always dwelled on game strategies more than the outfits, until one day, when a friend wondered out loud about the requisite skirts – then I had an "aha!" moment and decided to find out.

It turns out, the skirts and dresses synonymous with women's tennis can be traced back to societal norms of the late 19th and early 20th centuries. Women were expected to uphold a certain level of sophistication, modesty and femininity, which was reflected in their attire. Long dresses and skirts were the uniforms of choice, even in sports, though they were undoubtedly restrictive and uncomfortable for swift, competitive play. Interestingly, female tennis player attire reflects societal changes over the years, mapping onto broader trends and attitudes about women’s roles.

The Evolution of Tennis Attire

Tennis attire for women took a dramatic turn around the 1920s when French tennis legend Suzanne Lenglen swapped her long dresses for a calf-length, pleated skirt, which was quite the scandal at the time! She was the first woman to dare to bare – and breathe, I might add. Funny as it sounds today, this was a groundbreaking fashion statement that set the stage for future changes in women's tennis attire.

Truth be told, the 'dress code' has monumentally loosened up since then. In a bold move, Gertrude Moran back in 1949 wore a shocking (well, for that era, at least) short skirt with ruffled lace-trimmed knickers that were visible during the game. Fast forward to the era of Serena Williams, and we have catsuits, tutus, and even jumpsuits—to each her own, right? Let's be real, when it comes to breaking stereotypes and pushing boundaries, no one does it better than Serena Williams. From her infamous Black Panther catsuit to her Swarovski-encrusted tutu, Serena throws convention to the wind with her choice of clothing.

The Freedom of Choice

Now, in the 21st century, the good news is that women tennis players do not necessarily HAVE to wear skirts. The skirts and dresses we see are more a matter of tradition, fashion, and personal choice than a mandatory dress code. The Women's Tennis Association (WTA) permits wearing shorts, leggings, track pants, and the like. This evolution reflects not only the sport's growth but also the shifting societal mood towards gender equality and individual freedom of choice.

And let's not forget practicality. Many players do prefer skirts or dresses because they can be less restrictive and cooler, which can be a significant advantage, especially in high-pressure, high-heat pro games. The great secret behind the trendy "skort" (a combination of shorts and skirt) is the use of inbuilt shorts that give comfort, suitability for the sport, and the feminine appeal of a skirt. It's a triple win situation!

Tennis Fashion Beyond the Court

You know style has power when it transcends the boundaries of its origin. Tennis fashion is no exception. Women's tennis skirts have found their way into everyday wear. Admit it, skirts are lively, fun, and offer an interesting mix to the daily dressing routine. So, why should they be restricted to the courts? They've become a go-to wardrobe selection that has seeped into casual street fashion, school uniforms, and even high-fashion runways.

Think back to a time when miniskirts stormed into the fashion scene. Designer Mary Quant in the 1960s named her mini skirt design “the tennis girl” reinforcing the relationship between fashion and tennis. Today, there are endless designs, patterns and colours of tennis skirts available in various retail stores and online platforms for everyone's individual styles and tastes.

The Future of Tennis Attire

So, what's the future for women's tennis attire? Well, from the looks of it, society's changing views, tennis' progression, and players pushing boundaries, the future is promisingly varied and colourful. I suspect we'll continue seeing more players sporting unique and individualist outfits, reflecting their personalities and even using fashion as a statement. As for skirts, I'm confident they'll stick around, complemented by an increasing variety of other athletic wear. Although, to what extent they'll be conventional is anybody's guess. I, for one, am all up for this fashion diversity flash. Who knows, I might even pick up a couple of "skorts" for my morning runs!

As for me, I've come a long way from my initial casual musings about female tennis attire. Today, I can confidently say that I see the evolution of tennis attire as a mirror reflecting far more significant societal changes. An interesting lesson to dress to express – on or off the court. I hope you've found this dive into the "why skirts?" question interesting, I sure found the journey enlightening - it's amazing what you can discover with a bit of curiosity!

Aug, 1 2023