The most controversial Wimbledon outfits of all time

Sabrina Barr

Those who avidly follow the professional tennis circuit will be aware of the strict dress code imposed at the Wimbledon Championships, the biggest Grand Slam tournament of them all.

The tournament - founded in 1877 - is steeped in tradition and imposes strict rules, with participants being forced to adhere to a number of strict rules in order to compete.

However, that hasn’t stopped several players from breaking away from the dress code over the years, much to the conservative competition’s dismay.

The guidelines, which were updated in 2014 with a 10-part “decree”, include ensuring that clothes are not off-white or cream, but strictly white.

Furthermore, strips of colour that appear on necklines, cuffs of sleeves, underwear or caps can only be one centimetre in width at most.

Tennis stars including Pat Cash and Roger Federer have publicly chastised the austere guidelines, with Cash describing them as “archaic thinking”.

Here are six times tennis players took a step on the rebellious side and broke the Wimbledon dress code:

The catsuit

(Getty Images)

In 1985, American tennis player Anne White famously wore a white catsuit to compete at the tournament.

She paired her all-white ensemble with a pair of quintessentially 1980s leg warmers.

White’s opponent, American tennis player Pam Shriver, was none-too-pleased with White’s attire.

She complained to officials following their match, requesting that White never be allowed to wear the catsuit at the competition ever again.

However, perhaps Serena Williams will bring the catsuit back to SW19, having stated that the black catsuit that she wore at this year’s French Open made her feel like a “warrior princess”.

The lace underwear

(Getty Images)

American tennis player Gertude Moran, who was commonly referred to as “Gorgeous Gussie” during her heyday, caused quite a stir at Wimbledon in 1949 when her lace underwear became visible during a match.

Before her appearance at the tournament, Moran had asked the All-England Club whether she could be given permission to wear a colourful outfit.

However, the organisation refused her request.

The appearance of Moran’s underwear was even more controversial considering the convention for female tennis players having to wear longer skirts at the time.

The pink bra straps

(Getty Images)

Last year, Venus Williams was reportedly forced to change her bra midway through a match when her pink straps were spotted during gameplay.

She altered her underwear during a rain break in the second set of her victorious match against Belgian player Elise Mertens.

When asked about the incident in the press conference following the match, Williams expressed her discomfort at discussing the situation.

“What pink bra? I don’t like talking about bras in press conferences. It’s weird,” she said.

“I don’t want to talk about my undergarments. It’s kind of awkward for me. I’ll leave that to you. You can talk about it with your friends. I’m going to pass.”

The red shorts

(Rex Features)

Russian-born French tennis player Tatiana Golovin became a much-discussed topic of conversation during the 2007 Wimbledon Championships due to the red shorts that she opted to wear while competing.

As Golovin wore the red shorts prior to the dress code update of 2014, she was allowed to wear them to compete.

“They were cleared with the referee in advance by the player,” a Wimbledon spokesman said according to Reuters.

“On the basis that they are underwear, they do not have to conform to the predominantly white rule.”

However, the rules now state that the underwear worn by players must be mostly white.

The tux

(Getty Images)

When competing at the tournament a decade ago, Maria Sharapova appeared to poke fun at the strict dress code when she revealed her outfit on court.

She wore a pair of shorts teamed with a tux-style top, which appeared to reference the rigidity of the Wimbledon outfit guidelines.

However, the Russian tennis player said that she was inspired by menswear for the look.

“It’s the tuxedo look. I was very inspired by menswear this year and every time at Wimbledon I want to do something classy and elegant,” she said according to Reuters.

The “risqué” hemlines

(Getty Images)

Sue Barker, who was reached the ranking of world number three during her professional tennis career, was criticised when she took part in Wimbledon in 1977 due to the length of her hemlines.

Her dresses were described as being too “risqué” at the time.

Barker went on to reach the semi-finals of the competition that year, where she lost to Dutch player Betty Stöve.

She was reportedly so distraught over the loss that she couldn’t bear to watch the final.

Barker will be presenting live coverage of the Wimbledon Championships when they begin on Monday 2 July.