While everyone is enjoying the hype that Wimbledon inevitably delivers each year, allowing every hour to be pimms o’clock, a dilemma for the female competitors has occurred regarding the Nike Grand Slam dress.
The Wimbledon Championships, being one of the most prestigious and oldest tennis tournaments, has a strict dress code that all competitors must abide by in order to play. The tennis attire that one must wear must be almost entirely white and this applies from the point at which the player enters the court. White, however, does not include off white or cream – just in case you were wondering!
Although the strict dress code is not surprising for an event like Wimbledon, this year, colour isn’t the issue. Rather, the Nike Court Premier Slam Dress which is a requirement for those sponsored by the brand, has some spectators arguing that it is too short for the athletes. Instead of the typical two-piece outfits that Nike usually offer players, which are form-fitting, the company issued a loosely hanging, short dress. Of course, it was white in accordance with Wimbledon’s dress code but it has attracted a wide amount of criticism. Not only are spectators saying that the dress looks too short, the athletes themselves have been forced to alter the dress themselves during the qualifying rounds of the tournament. Britain’s Katie Boulter tied a headband around her waist to act as a belt in order to hold the flimsy and light weight fabric more in place. Swedish athlete, Rebecca Peterson, stated that ‘when I was serving, it was coming up, and I felt like the dress was just everywhere’. In the end, Peterson resulted to playing in a long-sleeved shirt over the dress to stop it from flying up.
Nike have rushed to the defence of their design stating that the ‘dress features modern design elements’ including ‘power pleats and racerback construction, which work in tandem to enable the athlete’s movement’. However, it seems that athletes do not agree. Many have decided not to wear the dress and Nike have issued another outfit, like previous years, a two-piece design which many Nike sponsors have favoured over the nightie looking dress, especially world number one, Serena Williams.
It seems rather distressing that rather than focusing on the great achievements of the female athletes, the media has decided to broadcast the dress malfunction and criticising it for flying up and revealing too much flesh. We should be focusing on the successes of the sport rather than the attire they are playing in.