Wimbledon will relax its white clothing rule to allow women players to wear dark-colored undershorts if they want to, organizers announced Thursday.
The decision comes after the tournament and its organizers faced growing pressure to reduce anxieties as to whether blood is visible on white clothes for players who are menstruating.
“We are committed to supporting the players and listening to their feedback as to how they can perform at their best,” Sally Bolton, chief executive of the All England Club, said in a statement.
“I’m pleased to confirm that, following consultation with players and representatives of several stakeholder groups, the Committee of Management has taken the decision to update the white clothing rule at Wimbledon.
“This means that from next year, women and girls competing at The Championships will have the option of wearing colored undershorts if they choose.
“It is our hope that this rule adjustment will help players focus purely on their performance by relieving a potential source of anxiety.”
Until Thursday’s announcement, Wimbledon still employed a rigid all-white dress code, which was first implemented to camouflage sweat stains.
Tournament organizers had been under pressure to relax its strict dress code, and at this year’s tournament campaigners gathered at SW19 with signs that read “About bloody time,” and “Address the dress code.”
Several women including former Olympic champion Monica Puig and Australian tennis player Daria Saville spoke about the “mental stress” caused by the all-white dress code and “skipping periods” as a result.
And in a recent interview with CNN’s Amanda Davies, tennis great Billie Jean King explained that the dress code had caused anxiety for her and her fellow competitors.
“My generation, we always worried because we were all white all the time,” King told CNN’s Amanda Davies.
“And it’s what you wear underneath that’s important for your menstrual period.
Billie Jean King reveals ‘pet peeve’ is Wimbledon’s ‘horrible’ all white uniform policy
“And we’re always checking whether we’re showing. You get tense about it because the first thing we are is entertainers and you want whatever you wear to look immaculate, look great,” she said.
King also pointed out that the all-white dress code makes it difficult for fans trying to distinguish between players on the court.
“Nothing is worse in sports than when you turn on the television and two players are wearing the same uniform or the same outfits. It’s horrible. No one knows who’s who.
“This is one of my pet peeves, I’ve been yelling for years. Have you ever seen any sport where the people wear the same outfit on each side? she added.
Wimbledon is set to run from July 3 through July 16 in 2023.