March 31, 2023

Wimbledon will welcome color beneath its all-white rule.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club will ease its iconic all-white clothing rule for women, according British newspaper The Telegraph.

Starting in 2023, the grass-court Grand Slam will limit its all-white rule to the top layer of women’s clothes, The Telegraph’s Simon Briggs reports.

Women will be permitted to wear colored underwear beneath all-white apparel.

A practical reason is prompting this change: To reduce anxiety women players experience playing Wimbledon during their menstrual cycles.

For years, some women players have implored the club to relax the rule arguing there’s no other place they’d be required to wear all white while on their periods.

Hall of Famer Billie Jean King told CNN women players “live in tension” wearing all white on court during their periods.

“In my generation we were always worried about wearing white all the time,” King told CNN. “And what you wear is important when you are going through the menstrual period. And we always check if it’s being seen.

“You live in tension because the first thing we are people who entertain, and you want to be immaculate and look fantastic. We are cheerleaders and we want to convey our spirits to the people.”

Judy Murray, former British Fed Cup captain and mom of Andy Murray and Jamie Murray, has advocated for the rule change saying wearing all white on court can make women fearful on court and cause trauma.

“I think it’s certainly a much more open talking point,” Judy Murray told the media in Glasgow prior to last week’s Billie Jean King Cup finals.

“But it would probably need more of the players to speak out openly about the trauma it can cause you, if you are wearing all white and then possibly have a leak while you’re playing. I cannot think of a much more traumatic experience than that.”

Judy Murray says if more players speak out on this issue, then change will come.

“When all matches are televised and streamed now, it is something that needs to be considered. It’s one of those things, when something like that becomes a talking point, decisions have to be made on it. However, it’s really important, too, that we have lots of women on the decision-making panel, because they understand what that’s like to have menstrual cycles and they understand the fear of that happening while playing.”

In a statement issued to The Telegraph, the All England Club acknowledged it is “in discussions with the WTA” on ways it can support mental health.

“Prioritizing women’s health and supporting players based on their individual needs is very important to us, and we are in discussions with the WTA, with manufacturers and with the medical teams about the ways in which we can do that,” the All England Club announced in a statement.

Though Wimbledon did not specifically commit to the change in that statement it is believed the change will happen next summer.

One big reason is because the All England Club has its female CEO in history, Sally Bolton, who is seen as a leader more understanding of the challenges women players face during menstrual cycles.

The grass-court Grand Slam has applied stricter enforcement of the all-white rule in recent years, even extending to underwear.

If you’re wondering, why does Wimbledon have an all-white rule when other Grand Slams don’t.

Tradition is the most common reason, but it goes deeper than that.

The tournament says its all-white apparel rule is really about showcasing tennis.

The All England Lawn Tennis Club said in a statement a few years back the all-white apparel rule is not about fashion it’s about form.

“To us, the all-white rule isn’t about fashion, it’s about letting the players and the tennis stand out,” the Club said in a statement.

“Everyone who steps on a Wimbledon court, from a reigning champion through to qualifier does so wearing white. That’s a great leveler. If a player wants to get noticed, they must do so through their play. That’s a tradition we’re proud of.”

Photo credit: Rob Newell/CameraSport

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