Since women first started to play tennis, its fashions have changed a lot. In the begining, women wore long, cumbersome outfits, which slowed down the freedom of movement and restricted the ability to play the game in accordance to its intention. Then. Suzanne Lenglen – the incomparable French champion, who ranked number in the world in both 1925 and 1926, made a turning point for tennis fashion.
Lenglen opted for plunging necklines and dress hems that extended just below the knee. People were skeptical and thought it to be racy. Some believed it to be a fad, but soon other women adopted her style. From her daring to flaunt a social code and to dress differently, arose the tennis outfits of today.
The classic outfit on any female court is the little white dress or skirt and dress. This is still the status quo at many courts and it used to be the expected uniform for the professional matches. If this is your milieu or you simply are interested in “fitting in,” wear the appropriate white outfit.
Today, however, there are increasingly more choices. Some are architectural or structural changes. Tennis dresses and tops have built-in bras and reinforced skirts. This eases body movement and removes the possibility of embarrassment. Some feature plunging necklines, but are constructed to withstand the bounce and flow of the game.
Shapes and colors
You can now find skirts manufactured in a wide-variety of shapes and colors. Pleats, once de rigueur, are gone, replaced by a multitude of offerings. There are blue-line dresses, tank tops, a-line skirts and blue-line skirts (as well as shapeless outfits). Tennis players are allowing designers to create outfits for them. Sometimes, these approaches are better suited to some existentialist catwalk than to the tennis court.
Nevertheless, changes are making tennis more of a fashion statement than ever before. The once solid white, white, white, is vanishing. Maria Kirilenko wore a gray sack-like dress with a wide tank top and a tiered, layered skirt. A sharper contrast to the stereotypical tennis outfit was Maria Sharapov’s black outfit with sequins worn in a night game at the 2006American Open.
Love them or hate them, tennis outfits are changing. There are skirts in white, pink, navy, turquoise, and yellow. There are prints of all types. Hawaiian, floral and butterfly prints are but a few. There are solid colors and even white has been given a face-lift. Bethanie Matek wore a toga-like lace top with a plunging neckline at last year’s American Open.
Skirts also stand out on the court with flashy geometric designs and polka dot patterns. Mary Pierce wore a retro style black, yellow and blue geometric design top. If you wish to stand out, pick any of these new and exciting, even flamboyant styles. If, however, you have the right kind of figure and are not afraid to be bold and daring, wear shorts. Better yet, try out the short shorts that have been making the courtly rounds since the 1990s.
Shorts and pants are appearing more and more on the regular courts. “Catsuits” and retro “hot pants” have made their advent on many a tennis court. The length of the shorts does tend to vary as does the material. Cotton is popular, but Serna Williams has worn denim and vinyl. Spandex and lycra material are also becoming more common among serious sporting outfits. You can wash it easily. It is lightweight and very, very flexible. It is also formfitting. Some critics complain this and other shiny material is best left to strippers, stage dancers and wrestlers.
A word of caution, if you wish to wear short shorts or any of the lycra tight creations, be sure you have the right qualifications – and I don’t mean simply your tennis lob.
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