Wimbledon finally withdraws its rule which forced some players to take birth control pills because of their white underwear

LONDON | Heather Watson took birth control pills last year at Wimbledon. The British player knew she would be menstruating during the event and wanted to avoid bloodstaining her white underwear, which has always been part of the prestigious tournament’s strict dress code and is often very visible under dresses, too white.

“We run on the field, we sweat, we do the splits …” raised the 149e world player in interview on the British channel Sky.

Heather Watson.

Archival photo

This year, however, there is no need for players to take medication to avoid unwanted spots. Wimbledon has decided to lighten its dress code for women. They can wear shorts or dark underwear if they wish.

A small revolution in the most purist enclosure of tennis.

When Agassi Boycotted Wimbledon

This rule of all-white clothes at the All England Club dates from the 1880s, explains the encyclopedia Britannia.

At the time, any sweat marks on clothes were considered unclean. The organizers of the oldest of the Grand Slam tournaments therefore asked the players to dress all in white, since the traces of perspiration are less visible on outfits of this color.

But even before more and more players were complaining about the anxiety caused by playing in white during their period, the strict rule had caused controversy.

The American Andre Agassi boycotted the tournament for three years, between 1988 and 1990, since he said he was more comfortable playing in the very colorful clothes he usually wore (at that time, Agassi wore often neon outfits and an imposing Longueuil cut).


Andre Agassi in 1991, at Roland-Garros.

Photo: AFP

“The referee mentioned it to me”

Heather Watson is not the only player to be relieved by the relaxation of the rules at Wimbledon. World No. 7 Coco Gauff of the United States told Sky that she had had her clothes stain in the past during her period during a tournament.

“Luckily the referee had mentioned it to me before anyone noticed. But [cette décision], it makes a big difference, said the young player. I am happy that we are talking about it, because we are concerned. I’m also glad it’s no longer a taboo subject.”

“Several girls had concerns, also pointed out the Canadian Bianca Andreescu, Saturday. It will make a huge difference. You never know what type of bleeding you will have, how heavy it will be. And if they are too much, well… you get exposed by wearing white.”

Andreescu described this change as great news for female tennis players, but also as a step forward for “all women’s sports”, which can be inspired by it.

“It’s huge, because women don’t have the same realities as men,” she noted.

“We won’t have to think about that anymore”

Quebecer Leylah Fernandez, she felt that it was a “good option for women”.

“It gives us confidence, pointed out the young player. Sometimes [quand je suis menstruée], I have to ask my mother or sister for advice on whether this or that color is better. It will ensure that we no longer have to think about that during the matches.

“We’ll just have to think about what we have to accomplish on the pitch.”

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