Wimbledon officials are infamously persnickety about what players wear while competing at the event, but this time, the shoe is on the other foot. Or, in this case, the dress is back in the shop for alterations, after complaints that it was too revealing and got in the way during play.
The problem is more one for Nike than for Wimbledon, which signed off on the “Premier Slam” dress because it adhered to standard of being all white, apart from a small Swoosh. What it apparently didn’t do was cover enough of players’ bodies, especially when it rode up over their waists as they hit shots.
At least 20 women in Wimbledon’s main draw, which starts next week, are paid to wear Nike apparel, including Victoria Azarenka, Petra Kvitova and Eugenie Bouchard. Serena Williams, another Nike endorser, will wear her own, signature version of the dress, one that is more structured and less revealing.
Nike touts the Premier Slam dress as having a “light, airy body,” while “pleats throughout enable full range of motion.” The company calls the dress “ideal for layering over shorts or tights.”
During qualifying play this week at London’s All England club, Britain’s Katie Boulter used a hairband as an improvised belt to help keep the dress in place. Meantime, Lucie Hradecka of the Czech Republic wore knee-length leggings under her dress.
According to the Daily Mail, Nike sent an email to players and their representatives, saying, “We need to make a small change to your dresses per Wimbledon rules. Could you please bring them by the Nike Wimbledon House.” The company added that “this is VERY important.”
Wimbledon’s rules on players’ clothing and equipment include this passage: “Competitors must be dressed in suitable tennis attire that is almost entirely white and this applies from the point at which the player enters the court surround.” The rules also state that “common standards of decency are required at all times.”
In the season’s third Grand Slam event, Williams will look to win her first of the year after losing in the finals of the Australian and French Opens. Meanwhile, the top-ranked men’s player, Novak Djokovic, will try to become the first man in the Open era (dating from 1968) to win five major titles in a row.