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Athletes Want the 1800s Wimbledon Dress Code to Change

LONDON, ENGLAND - JUNE 27: Emma Raducanu of Great Britain plays a forehand against Alison Van Uytvanck of Belgium in the Women's Singles first round match during day one of The Championships Wimbledon 2022 at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club on June 27, 2022 London, England . (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)

Today, the annual Wimbledon Championships return – and the athletes have made it clear they are ready to update the tournament’s age-old traditions, particularly those that disproportionately affect female athletes, including the dress code. Wimbledon’s strict all-white dress code rule has been in place since the Victorian era, but is now being questioned.

The rule was originally enforced because any sign of sweat was considered “rude or inappropriate”. It’s hard not to roll your eyes at the thought, considering the true scaremonger’s face with menstrual blood spurting through her skort. “I can’t imagine going into the biggest day of my life on my period and being forced to wear white,” tennis broadcaster Catherine Whitake said in an interview with The Telegraph. Former tennis player and Olympic gold medalist Monica Puig tweeted in response to the discourse, commenting on the stress of wearing white while playing in a tournament.

The current dress code completely ignores the impact periods can have on athletes. Just last month, tennis player Qiwen Zheng spoke about how menstrual cramps affected her performance. After Zheng’s devastating loss to Iga Świątek at the French Open, she told reporters, “I can’t play my tennis, (my) stomach hurt too much,” according to CNN. “I wish I could be a man on the pitch… so I wouldn’t have to suffer from… my stomach ache. I think I could enjoy more, like to run better and hit harder,” she went on to say.

Uniforms aren’t the only thing disproportionately affecting female athletes. Players can leave the pitch twice to go to the bathroom during a game (while doubles teams must share their allotted number of breaks). The limited toilet breaks during Wimbledon further show that periods during the tournament are not taken into account. The lack of recognition means athletes have to invent their own workarounds, like wearing extra pads or strategically using larger tampons or birth control.

British tennis player Heather Watson told BBC Sport that while she enjoys the traditional element of wearing white, planning her period around the tournament can be stressful and “annoying”.

“I’ll probably be on the pill just to skip my period for Wimbledon. That’s the thought process and the conversations that girls have about it,” she says.

Not only athletes find the dress code too strict. Tennis players Andre Agassi, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have all expressed their frustration by pushing the boundaries of their clothing – Agassi went so far as to boycott Wimbledon between 1988 and 1990 to make his stance clear. However, their argumentation is stylistically based on freedom of speech.

The dress code change is just a step towards a more inclusive environment for professional tennis players. Wimbledon has not yet responded to these players’ comments. With no ongoing petitions or political efforts, there doesn’t seem to be any sign of change.

https://www.popsugar.com/fitness/wimbledon-dress-code-periods-48868294 Athletes Want the 1800s Wimbledon Dress Code to Change

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