Today, women’s tennis apparel is lightweight, moisture-wicking, flexible, and functional, but when the sport first rose to popularity, women’s apparel took a while to catch up. Tennis is a sport that requires great dexterity; players are often shifting their weight around, moving rapidly, and sprinting in short bursts to get to a court. It’s an amazing show of athleticism, but perhaps would have been even more impressive in the heavy, ankle-length skirts and corsets – yes, corsets! – that women had to wear when the sport first started.

New Style Showcases

In 1887, Charlotte “Lottie” Dod, was just 15 years old when she won Wimbledon wearing an outfit that was similar to her school uniform. Able to move more easily without a traditional corset, Lottie drew criticism from her opponents who questioned the fairness of her outfit. This was the first time that women’s tennis apparel was truly examined and challenged.

In the early 1900s, women’s tennis apparel was fashioned after the long dresses that upper-class women wore to garden parties. They stepped on the court with collared dresses and floor-length skirts. Then, in the 1920s, Suzanne Lenglen sported a calf-length skirt and bare arms at that year’s Wimbledon. Pioneering women’s fashion for the next decade, Lenglen ushered in a more relaxed dress code for all female tennis players.

The 1940s brought shorts to the court, with many women opting for high-waisted shorts and a blouse without sleeves. In the next decade, women’s fashion apparel centered around pleated skirts and cardigans, starting to resemble the same basic styles that can be seen in the sport today.

Emergence of Modern Looks

The 60s, 70s, and 80s were revolutionary years for tennis fashion. Drip-dry tennis fabrics became a reality, short skirts and breathable shirts were a no-brainer, and small sponsors began to enter the sport. Fashion in women’s tennis had changed drastically, and the sport was getting more competitive every year.

The first tennis body suit worn by Anne White drew harsh criticisms and actually caused her match to be delayed. This was an era of rebellion from some of the biggest names in the sport, and by the 90s, things like floral prints, scrunchies, and polos – which were designed for men’s tennis – had become the norm.

Tennis in the 2000s

Serena Williams wore her groundbreaking “cat suit” that was designed by Puma. From there, women’s tennis apparel added sun protection features and feminine details. Ruffles, prints, and interesting hemlines continue to make waves in tennis fashion and influence street fashion, too. Dri-FIT material became the norm, manufacturers incorporated sustainable elements, and women’s tennis apparel continued to advance into what it is today.

Denise Cronwall’s Stamp on Women’s Tennis Apparel

At Denise Cronwall, we incorporate all of the best components of tennis fashion. We focus on using the best materials, ensuring flexibility and wearability, and of course, making a fashion statement simultaneously. With a wide array of prints and patterns, you can mix and match your dream tennis outfit with ease. Head over to our website today to find your next fashion statement.

December 30, 2022

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