Ever wonder about the history and meaning of wearing white while playing tennis? Let’s explore the topic and get you properly dressed to play this timeless sport.
Wearing white while playing tennis is a tradition that dates back to the early days of the sport. In the 19th century, tennis was played mostly by wealthy aristocrats, and white was considered to be the most appropriate color for formal attire. White was also seen as a clean and sanitary color, which was important for a sport that was played outdoors. The fact that it was expensive to keep clean was another distinguishing reason why the elite chose to play in white.
As tennis became more popular, the tradition of wearing white continued. In the early 20th century, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC), which hosts the Wimbledon Championships, adopted a strict dress code that required players to wear white (a minimal trim of color on clothing like the neckline or cuffs is acceptable).
This dress code has been in place ever since, and it is one of the most recognizable traditions in all of sports. A slight exception to the dress code was made in 2022, when Wimbledon noted that women are now allowed to wear solid, mid/dark colored shorts under their tennis dress or skirt.
There are a few practical reasons why the AELTC has maintained its strict dress code.
First, white is a timeless color that looks good on everyone.
Second, white is a practical color for a sport that is played outdoors: it keeps a player cool, conceals sweat and is a striking visual against the grass court surface.
Third, white helps to create a sense of uniformity and professionalism on the court.
Of course, not everyone agrees with the AELTC's dress code. Some people argue that it is outdated and discriminatory. Others argue that it is too restrictive and uncomfortable. However, the AELTC has stood by its dress code for over a century, and it is unlikely to change anytime soon.
In addition to the practical and traditional reasons for wearing white, there are also some symbolic meanings associated with the color. White is often seen as a symbol of purity, innocence, and cleanliness. These are all qualities that are valued in the sport of tennis, which is known for its refinement, sportsmanship and fair play.
Wearing white can also be seen as a way to show respect for the game. By dressing in a certain way, players are demonstrating their commitment to tennis and their willingness to follow the rules. This can help to create a more positive and enjoyable experience for everyone involved.
Tennis Whites for the Recreational Player
Tennis is no longer considered an elitist sport reserved only for the wealthy. However, the tradition of wearing tennis whites is still popular among players. Additionally, many private tennis clubs across the world—especially on the east coast of the US and in Europe—still mandate white tennis attire as a nod of respect to the tradition of the sport.
The tradition of wearing white for tennis still has its practical application:
It reflects light thus keeping players cooler.
It is a timeless, elegant color and is typically very flattering on most players.
It is a subtle reminder of fair play and sportsmanship.
Of course, wearing white also has its impracticalities, the main one being it can stain easily. So, consider your fabric choices, read care labels, wash whites separately, and maybe reserve your favorite white tennis outfits for match days only.
Edara’s Tennis Whites
Edara Apparel thinks women’s contemporary tennis fashion is founded in confidence, simplicity and functionality, and certainly with a hint of tradition. From the very conception of the brand, Edara was always going to offer tennis apparel in a white colorway, but we were going to make our products the BEST performing tennis apparel, as well.
Edara is truly the athlete’s choice when it comes to tennis apparel, and our classic white version of each dress gives a through-line for the history and evolution of this sport.
Update your tennis wardrobe with a few timeless, functional white pieces like our Edara Long-Sleeved, Tie-Back or Ruffle dress. Keep a pair of white tennis shoes, socks and sweatbands on hand to coordinate with your outfit. Wear an Ace visor in white to finish off your elegant, classy tennis look.