Yesterday at Wimbledon, a boys’ doubles team was sent off the court to change into white underwear because their black undies apparently violated a rule at the strict All England Club that says players outfits must be “almost entirely white.” Today, tournament supervisors remained deeply interested in boys’ undies.
This time, Austrian 18-year-old Jurij Rodionov, who went on to win his third-round match, was the offender.
While the all-white rule was tightened in 2014 to mandate that outfits had to be white with only a single trim of color “no wider than one centimetre,” which includes all accessories and “any undergarments that either are or can be visible during play (including due to perspiration),” Wimbledon has been sticklers about dress for decades. Here’s a Los Angeles Times article from 1994:
In a mostly uneventful first-round 6-4, 6-3 loss to Larisa Neiland, American Katrina Adams was summoned to a postmatch news conference by curious British tabloid reporters. After an obligatory question about Adams’ play, the reporters zeroed in on the controversy that mattered.
Question: “Your colorful clothing caused a little bit of a stir, I understand, on Court Five—particularly your underwear. Can you tell us about that?”
That’s right, an underwear expose. Adams’ multicolored tennis undies, called Fancy Pants, were seen early and often because of the blustery conditions. If they were noticeable, it was only because of the All England Lawn Tennis Club’s strict rule regarding predominantly white playing wear.
Adams’ tennis pants were pink, green, black and white.“If it’s any consolation to you,” the British reporter said, “we all thought they were very attractive anyway.”
Said Adams, who was making her seventh appearance at Wimbledon: “Thanks a lot. You saw my bottom a lot today, huh? No peeping Toms or anything.”
The same article said the Wimbledon bosses had a problem with the style of some players on the men’s side as well:
Meanwhile, the fashion police found time to criticize the ultra-baggy (by tennis standards) shorts worn by Americans Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras.
Agassi has said the shorts were designed at his request, though a Nike spokesman reportedly disputed the claim. Nike said Sampras first wanted a looser-fitting pair of shorts.
Whatever the case, the baggies weren’t much of a hit with the upper crust at Wimbledon.
“Agassi looked an absolute mess,” Alan Little, librarian at the Wimbledon museum, told the London Times.
“I have never seen anyone look so scruffy on a Wimbledon court. I hope this doesn’t start yet another fashion.”
Little has seen every male Wimbledon champion since 1950. He remains no fan of Agassi’s court-wear tastes.
“At this rate he could be in long johns next year,” he said.
There you have it: Wimbledon fashion police have always been self-important rigid jerks. It’s just this newly intensified interest in boys’ underwear is weird as hell.