Wimbledon will relax its white-clothing rule to allow players to wear dark-colored briefs if they choose, organizers announced Thursday.
The decision comes after the tournament and its organizers faced increasing pressure to reduce anxiety about whether blood is visible on the white clothing of players who are menstruating.
“We are committed to supporting players and listening to their feedback on how they can perform at their best,” said Sally Bolton, chief executive of the All England Club, in a statement.
“I am pleased to confirm that, following consultation with players and representatives of various stakeholders, the Steering Committee has taken the decision to update the white clothing rule at Wimbledon.
“This means that from next year, women and girls competing in the Championships will have the option to wear colored underpants if they wish.
“We hope this rule adjustment will help players focus solely on their performance, alleviating a potential source of anxiety.”
Until Thursday’s announcement, Wimbledon was still using a rigid all-white dress code, which was first implemented to camouflage sweat stains.
Tournament organizers had come under pressure to relax their strict dress code, and during the campaign for this year’s tournament they rallied in SW19 with signs reading “About the bloody hour” and “Tackling the dress code “.
Several women, including former Olympic champion Monica Puig and Australian tennis player Daria Saville, spoke of the “mental stress” caused by the all-white dress code and the resulting “jump periods”.
And in a recent interview with CNN’s Amanda Davies, tennis great Billie Jean King explained that the dress code had caused anxiety for her and her fellow competitors.
“My generation, we always worried that we were dressed in white all the time,” King told CNN’s Amanda Davies.
“And it’s what you wear underneath that’s important for your period.
Billie Jean King reveals Wimbledon’s ‘horrible’ white uniform policy ‘pet’
– Source: CNN
“And we’re always checking to see if we’re showing off. You have it because first and foremost we’re entertainers and you want whatever you’re wearing to look flawless, to look great,” he said.
King also noted that the all-white dress code makes it difficult for fans to try to distinguish between players on the court.
“Nothing is worse in sports than when you turn on the TV and two players are wearing the same uniform or the same clothes. It’s horrible. Nobody knows who is who.
“This is one of my pet peeves, I’ve been yelling for years. Have you ever seen a sport where people wear the same outfit on each side?” she added.
Wimbledon will take place from 3 to 16 July 2023.