Women’s tennis stars speak of anxiety over being forced to wear ‘Wimbledon white’ while on their period

Wimbledon, the oldest and arguably the most prestigious tennis tournament on the calendar, has a long tradition.
The players are most known to be bound by a strict all-white dress code. Even caps, headbands or tennis shoe soles are not excluded.
But in the past few weeks, female tennis players have drawn attention to another anxiety often overlooked in the hype surrounding the annual tournament: the added stress of leaking through their “white Wimbledon shorts” during their periods.
Tennis player Monica Puig addressed the issue on Twitter in May, responding to tennis commentator David Lowe, who said that in his 25 years in tennis, he never thought about the physical effects of menstruation on athletes.

“Definitely something that affects female athletes!” she wrote. “Finally bringing this to the attention of the public! Not to mention the mental stress of having to wear all white to Wimbledon and praying you don’t have your period for those two weeks.”

The dress code was introduced in the 1880s when any form of sweat on sportswear was considered indecent and rough, and white clothing was thought to minimize the visibility of sweat and keep players cool.
A strict code prohibits a player from wearing any color other than white, unless it is the only trim no more than one centimeter wide. Even the clothes worn to and from the courts must be white, and white includes “off-white” or “cream” as the rules state.
As far as “underwear” is concerned, anything that is or can be seen during the game “due to sweat” is subject to the rule.
Even medical support and equipment is no exception, as the rules state that they “must be white if possible, but may be colored if absolutely necessary.”
Popular tennis great Roger Federer caused consternation among Wimbledon officials in 2013 when he took to the grass court wearing orange-soled shoes.

This all-white requirement is being repeated at tennis clubs around the world, including at the Royal Sydney Golf Club in Rose Bay.

Championship - Wimbledon 2013: Day One

Roger Federer’s controversial sneakers during the first round of the Wimbledon Championships in 2013. Credit: Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

British tennis player Alicia Barnett last Saturday spoke about the psychological stress of wearing white during her period, as well as the symptoms that affect her performance.

Barnett said, although she liked the tradition: “I think some traditions could be changed,” in an interview with PA News Agency.
“I, for one, am a strong advocate for women’s rights, and I think this discussion is just amazing that people are talking about it now.
“Personally, I love the all-white tradition and I think we can handle it.
“I think it’s hard enough on tour during your period, but it’s also hard to wear white.”

Later, reflecting on the physical impact, Barnett told PA, “Your body feels more relaxed, your tendons loosen up, sometimes you feel like you’re a lot more tired, sometimes your coordination just gets out of whack, and as far as I’m concerned, I feel very depressed and depressed. it’s hard to get that kind of motivation.

Black and white image of a woman hitting a tennis ball with a racket.

Beverly Flaitz of the USA at Wimbledon in 1955. Credit: William Wanderson/Getty Images

“Obviously you’re trying to play world class tennis, but it’s really hard when you have PMS and feel bloated and tired.

“Why should we be embarrassed to talk about it?”
Australian tennis player Daria Saville revealed on Wednesday that she had missed periods during tournaments in the past due to fear of bleeding.
“Recently, while at Wimbledon, I was talking to a friend of mine saying that I like all white, but then a few girls said they hate it because wearing all white while on your period sucks,” Saville told The Daily. Aus.

“It’s true, I myself had to miss my period around Wimbledon because I didn’t want to worry about bleeding. We have enough stress as it is.”

A woman is preparing to hit the ball with a tennis racket.

Daria Saville from Australia says she had to miss her period because she was afraid of leaking through Wimbledon’s clothes. Credit: Justin Setterfield/Getty Images

On Instagram, Saville shared another experience at the Australian Open where she got her period in the middle of a match.

“We are only allowed two toilet breaks during a match. Thank God I had a female referee. I explained to her what was going on and then waited for someone to bring me a tampon because I didn’t have one.”
“It was 38 degrees that day, so I said sometimes being a girl sucks,” added Saville.

Chinese teenager Zheng Qinwen shared that she suffered from menstrual cramps after losing to Pole Iga Swiatek in the fourth round of this year’s French Open.

A woman is massaging the back of another woman in a tennis uniform.

Chinese tennis player Zheng Qinwen said menstrual cramps disrupted her fourth-round women’s singles match against Poland’s Iga Swiatek. Credit: Shi Tan/Getty Images

“You know, it’s just girly stuff. The first day is always so hard, and then I have to play sports, and the first day is always so painful. And I couldn’t go against my nature,” Zheng told reporters after the match.

“I wish I could be a man on the court, but I can’t at that moment… I really want to be (a) a man, (so) I don’t have to suffer through it.”
Commentators also joined the chorus. Katherine Whitaker, who hosts The Tennis Podcast, says the all-white dress code has outlived its time, repeatedly calling for more loosening of the rules.
“I would like that to change,” she said in an interview. “If they had a dress policy that affected men the same way as women, I don’t think this particular tradition would have survived.

“I can’t imagine that on the most important day of my life, with my period, I would be forced to wear white.”