Tennis fashion is functional and comfortable, but it must follow a tight set of standards in professional matches. But that doesn’t mean the uniforms haven’t altered to reflect fashion. Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova, for example, have devised their own methods to have fun with their clothes (think tennis dresses made of lace and even denim).
Tennis attire frequently inspire the crowds as well. According to Ben Rothenberg’s The Stylish Life: Tennis, American tennis star Bill Tilden captivated spectators in the 1920s with his forehand and preppy attire. Tilden’s modest white V-neck sweaters and matching slacks are still a classic men’s fashion combo today.
Technological advancements have also altered the appearance and functionality of tennis jerseys. Spandex, nylon, and other synthetic textiles designed to wick away sweat are necessary—and a far cry from what athletes wore 100 years ago. “When Victorian women played tennis in the 1880s and 1890s, they were wearing their street clothes, which included heavy undergarments like corsets, bustles, and petticoats, and voluminous skirts that grazed the ground,” Keren Ben-Horin, a fashion historian and coauthor of She’s Got Legs: A History of Hemlines and Fashion, told Allure.
With Teeanime, let’s look back at how tennis outfits have evolved over time.