Wimbledon right this moment is thought for showcasing the tennis skills of each female and male rivals, with family names starting from Andy Murray to the Williams sisters to Marina Sharapova. It’s astonishing to assume that in within the event’s earlier days, ladies have been anticipated to make a good serve wearing full-length skirts, corsets, and a cumbersome shirt: the ‘tennis whites’ of the time. It took some actual champions to make a reputation for girls in tennis…


On the flip of the century, there actually wasn’t a lot to distinguish a feminine tennis participant from the common woman strolling down the road to do her groceries. Corsets, petticoats and floor-length skirts have been simply a part of the sport. On the time, the officers at Wimbledon have been largely involved with preserving the ‘modesty’ of those high athletes – one thing which could appear somewhat irrelevant to us right this moment. The women on the court docket did look very prim and correct, however their outfits in all probability weren’t your best option for pursuing that Grand Slam, and even returning a few balls. It isn’t laborious to see why ladies have been persistently outperformed by their male counterparts once they have been weighed down by weighty skirts, shirts, belts – and don’t overlook the assertion hat.

Douglass additionally just about wrote the rule e-book on feminine tennis vogue. In 1910, she wrote Garden Tennis for Girls, containing recommendation for feminine gamers together with court docket etiquette, costume code, and the proper gear wanted to emulate Dorothea’s tennis prowess. A fairly spectacular side-project for a tennis champion and Olympic gold-medalist.


Dorothea Douglass at Wimbledon

Lenglen at Wimbledon in 1926

After Douglass, French competitor Suzanne Lenglen made a reputation for herself as tennis’ favorite flapper and a prima donna within the 1920s. Her antics on the court docket saved the viewers on their toes. Lenglen was recognized to swap her court-side drink for a swig of brandy, and all the time performed with a full face of make-up, which she managed to maintain intact regardless of being recognized to interrupt down and cry throughout a foul recreation.

Suzanne Lenglen.

Her unpredictable matches included one critical bout of Whooping Cough that compelled her to withdraw from play throughout a match in New York, a small blip in her in any other case 181-match successful streak.

Suzanne Lenglen.

Gussy throughout her first Wimbledon recreation.



We’ve come a great distance up to now 100 years of Wimbledon, and with a scorching few weeks forecast for this yr’s gamers, it’s in all probability for the most effective that we left a few of these extra conservative kinds up to now. However if you happen to do catch the Williams sisters sporting a big hat or tie on the court docket, you’ll know the place they received their vogue inspiration from.

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