Millennium Post

In whites, please!

It is that time of the yearagain. The mega stage is set, the actors primed, the grass has been trimmed to an exact 8 mm and the flowers are cheery and in full bloom. It is now just down to the moment when the subdued anticipation breaks into a roar as the favourites of the game step on to Centre Court and begin another edition of the greatest tennis tournament in the world. However, the portentous Tannoy at Wimbledon never fails to gently compliment on "patience" and "rain"—the catchphrases of an English summer. It is difficult to believe though that the first Wimbledon tournament was held in 1877 to enable the All England Club to pay for the repair of the pony roller needed to maintain the lawns. "The event attracted 22 players who paid one guinea to enter—and the winner, Spencer Gore, received 12 guineas in prize money and a silver challenge cup." This year, the men and women's singles champions will receive £2.35 million—£100,000 more than last year. It is another year and another Wimbledon tennis tournament. Keeping in mind the age-old "controversial" all-white outfit regulation, the players will be out there in their finest athletic gear. For some of the bold ones, there will be attempts to skirt the strict dress code regulations as well as it has been for decades. But at tennis's oldest and most prestigious event, the fashion police are always out in full force. A "suitable tennis attire that is almost entirely white is the first rule of Wimbledon. Non-white trim is allowed, however, that fleck of colour has to be on the neckline, sleeve cuff or outside seam of a pant, skirt, or shorts leg, and can be just under a centimetre wide. The "caps, headbands, bandanas, wristbands, and socks" are all required to adhere to the same all-white rule. Shoes have to be completely white, without coloured soles, and inners that can be "visible during play" have to match with the white theme, too. For two years (1988-1990), tennis legend Andre Agassi refused to even participate in Wimbledon as he was in favour of brightly-coloured kits but eventually played in 1992, adhering to the uniform code, and won his first Grand Slam title. In 2013, Roger Federer wore a pair of shoes with orange bottoms. "White, white, full-on white… I think it's too strict," he had said. In 2010 and 2012, Serena Williams wore brightly-coloured undershorts that were her good-luck charm, apparently. And she won the trophy both years. These are just a few names among the many who objected to the all-white code. The significance whites gained goes back to the Victorian era when it was all about being "incredibly proper," and "it was actually considered improper to sweat." But today, the all-white-clothing policies are in place because of tradition. And because Wimbledon is the most traditional of the four majors, the policy is particularly consequential.

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