Wimbledon has a lot of traditions, but the one that is perhaps most obvious to fans at home is their rule that all players must wear predominantly white clothing. And while you would think that this might limit the ability to players to dress stylishly and establish fashion trends, over the years the opposite has in fact been true. Wimbledon has produced more iconic looks that any of the other major pro tennis tournaments—perhaps because the wardrobe restrictions force players to be especially creative.
Today, with Wimbledon about to head into its final weekend wherein two new champions will be crowned, lets take a look at some of the greatest style icons in the history of the tournament. Not all of them are or were big names in the world of tennis, but they all made a splash at the All England Club for their notable fashion choices.
Ready? Then let’s do this.
From the mid-70s to mid-80s, Chris Evert was the darling of women's tennis. Or at least she was in America. And without a doubt, part of her charm was her cute, all-American style. (The other part of her charm was her incredible talent on the court.)
20. Chris Evert
Bethanie Mattek-Sands has never won Wimbledon or even made it past the fourth round. However, she's made a name for herself with her wild sense of style. She's pretty much the Lady Gaga of women's tennis, and the British press just eats it up.
19. Bethanie Mattek-Sands
As you may know, Wimbledon began in the Victorian era, back when fashion sensibilities were a little more conservative than they are today. Nobody exemplifies Victorian Wimbledon style like five-time champion Lottie Dod, pictured here at the age of 19.
18. Lottie Dod
When England's own Virginia Wade won Wimbledon in 1977, which marked the tournament's centennial aniversary, Queen Elizabeth II was in attendance for the first time since she officially became Queen of England 25 years earlier. For that reason, Wade made sure she looked especially presentable, and even went to the trouble of combing her hair before Her Majesty presented her with the trophy.
17. Virginia Wade
The biggest fashion trend in women's tennis right now? Leggings. And while some of the getups at the French Open this year looks pretty bad, Victoria Azarenka showed us that, as part of a classic all-white Wimbledon ensemble, it can look pretty good, too.
16. Victoria Azarenka
Usually when Wimbledon officials make a big stink over this or that player's attire, it's not that big of a deal. They make like something truly scandalous has happened, when really it's just a case of a woman deciding to wear shorts, or a man with orange soles on his shoes. However, in 1979, when 18-year-old American Linda Siegel took the court against six-time champ Billie Jean King, they actually had a legitimate reason to be upset.
Apparently Stiegel wanted to look good for her Wimbledon debut against a tennis legend, so she borrowed a fairly low-cut dress from one of her friends. Unfortunately, that dress proved to be insufficient for keeping her breasts in place, and the result was lots and lots of wardrobe malfunctions.
The next day, London tabloids had a field day publishing photos of the match. One headline even read, "Thanks for the mammary."
15. Linda Siegel
Another woman who caused a big stir at Wimbledon was American Karol Fageros. At the 1958 French Open, she wore gold underpants underneath her tennis skirt, which I guess you could get away with in Paris in the 50s. But the folks running Wimbledon told her she'd better not wear those things at the All England Club—and they banned her. The following year they reinstated her under the condition that she ditch the gold shorts. However, she didn't really ditch them. She just covered them up with frilly lace shorts.
Seriously, Karol Fageros might be the foxiest women's tennis player of all-time.
14. Karol Fageros
The always lovely Maria Sharapova got pretty creative back in 2008. She sported some mens-style shorts and a see-through shirt with a round patch of tuxedo shirt pleats.
It was pretty weird, but she still looked gorgeous...because she's Maria Sharapova.
13. Maria Sharapova
Spain's Lili De Alvarez brought some epic pomp to All England Club fashion in 1926 when she donned this white fur coat. Unfortunately, her fashion sense did not help her attain success on the court. She made the finals of Wimbledon three years in a row but lost every time.
12. Lili De Alvarez
Anne White never won Wimbledon or, for that matter, any Grand Slam event. However, in 1985 she made sure she'd always be remembered at the All England Club by sporting this one-piece lycra body suite for her first round match against Pam Shriver. When the match was suspended due to darkness, the umpire told her to wear something "more appropriate" the next day.
She did. And she lost.
11. Anne White
The rules say quite clearly that you are supposed to wear only white clothes. They say nothing about hair beads. Thus, Venus Williams was technically within the rules when she showed up at Wimbledon with this hairdo back in 1998.
Hey, at least it was Wimbledon green & purple.
10. Venus Williams
Italy's Lea Pericoli did not achieve much success on the tennis court. However, like many others we have seen so far, she became famous anyway for her wonderful fashion sense. Her clothes were designed by Teddy Tinling, the player-turned-designer who created the majority of the dressed worn by women in the 1950s and 1960s. Eventually the buzz around Pericoli's wardrobe was so intense that she keep her outfits a secret until the day of a match—just for the publicity.
9. Lea Pericoli
Johnny Mac liked to push the limits in pretty much every way, whether that meant questioning the authority of the chair umpire or seeing how much color he could get away with at the All England Club.
As you can see, apparently they used to be more willing to look the other way for champions. They were not nearly so lenient with Roger Federer and his orange-soled shoes this year.
8. John McEnroe
We have American Gussie Moran to thank for one of the earliest wardrobe "controversies" at Wimbledon. In 1949, in preparation for her first trip to the All England Club, the 25-year-old had Ted Tinling design her an outfit with a very short skirt that easily showed the lacy knickers underneath. And while that may sound pretty standard today, at the time it was outrageous for a woman to wear such a short skirt at Wimbledon. OUTRAGEOUS!
Ironically, Gussie didn't take the heat on this one. At least, not from Tourney officials. It was Tinling who took the fall here. He was shunned by the All England club (for whom he had previously worked) for thirty years after that.
Gussie, for her part, decided that she did not like the type of attention the lacy knickers brought. Thus, she eventually reverted to shorts.
7. Gertrude "Gussie" Moran
Roger Federer's Wimbledon style is a throwback to the classic looks that came before. No wonder they love him at Wimbledon.
6. Roger Federer
My how things change. We've gone from long sleeve, button-up shirts and ankle length skirts, to skimpy tennis dresses, and now to this: a woman wearing a feminized version of old-fashioned male tennis attire.
Serena Williams is a tennis fashion icon.
5. Serena Williams
Speaking of tennis fashion icons, how about Rene Lacoste—you know, the guy who invented the polo shirt and founded (duh) Lacoste? Yes, I'd say he played a pretty seminal role in tennis fashion, and 20th century fashion in general.
4. Rene Lacoste
And speaking of men's tennis legends that also turned into huge fashion brands, we must not forget England's Fred Perry. Here he is in 1931, standing next to Germany's Gottfried Von Cramm, both of them looking like total ballers.
3. Fred Perry
Suzanne Lenglen is the first Wimbledon fashion icon. She shocked tournament officials and the press in the early 1920s when she strolled out onto the court in a dress that—gasp!—left her arms bare and only went down to mid-calf. MID-CALF! Can you imagine?!
Okay, yes you can. Anyway, the point is, Lenglen was the first major risk-taker at Wimbledon when it comes to fashion, so she is very deserving of this high ranking. (Also I guess she was pretty good, too, having won the tournament six times.)
2. Suzanne Lenglen
Just how iconic and influential was Bjorn Borg, the first tennis rock star? Well, ask yourself this: if you were going to a costume party dressed up as a tennis player, wouldn't you wear a vintage polo shirt and a headband?
Exactly. You would. And Bjorn Borg invented that look.
Sadly, he was not nearly as stylish in later years as he was at Wimbledon in the 1970s.
1. Bjorn Borg
Maria Sharapova, Roger Federer, serena williams, sports fashion, tennis, Wimbledon,