Wimbledon’s Strict Rules Are Forcing Players To Change Their Underwear

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There are 141 pages in the International Tennis Federation’s official rulebook, but the All England Lawn Tennis Club (host of the iconic Wimbledon Championships) has a few specific rules of their own.

Most notably, Wimbledon requires all of its competitors to wear white while smashing balls on their grassy courts.

Venus Williams found herself in hot water after her first match of the tournament this year when officials questioned her about bright pink bra straps that peeked out from her all-white top.


According to the Telegraph, Venus responded, “Yeah, so I don’t want to talk about 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.”

Williams won that match against Belgium’s Elise Mertens in straight sets, 7-6, 6-4.

“Predominantly in White” Rule

According to Wimbledon FAQ page:

The ‘predominately in white’ rule was introduced in 1963 before the ‘almost entirely in white rule’ was brought in in 1995. Accessories were included in the rule from 2014. 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 New York Times

The New York Times described the 2014 rules about accessories as a “10-deep tablet of commandments” in a summer 2017 review of the dress code, packed with pictures.

The ninth entry in Wimbledon’s 2014 ten commandments reads:

9) Any undergarments that either are or can be visible during play (including due to perspiration) must also be completely white except for a single trim of colour no wider than one centimetre (10mm). In addition, common standards of decency are required at all times.


The enforcement of these rules is “at discretion of Referee.”

Rules Apply to Juniors, Too

When referees agreed to enforce the rules of the Tennis Club, they probably didn’t realize that this would also include awkward enforcement for young players.

Not once, but twice on July 13, officials confronted competitors in the junior-side of the tournament.

The referees called out Austrian Jurij Rodionov, 18, during his match, causing a roughly 10 minute delay.

“It was fine—I got more relaxed, actually,” Rodionov told The New York Times. “So I think it helped me.”

Rodionov won the match against Australian Blake Ellis.

The boys doubles team of 17-year-olds Zsombor Piros of Hungary and Wu Yibing of China were also sent off the court, delaying their match nearly half-an-hour, for wearing blue undies. Wimbledon officials gave them sparkling white new undies. They had to change before play could resume. No word on whether the All-England Club provides boxers or briefs.

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Anyway, Piros and Yibing also won their match.

There was a perk to the punishment, too. Apparently, Wimbledon officials “never asked for [the replacement underwear] back,” Piros told the Times.

Color — The Secret to Success?

All four people caught violating Wimbledon’s strict “predominantly in white” rules have won the same matches that got them into trouble with the oldest tennis tournament in the world.

Could it be that the non-white underwear is the secret to success at Wimbledon? With results like these, that dress code seems like a rule worth breaking.

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