Tennis clothes have changed drastically in style, fabric, and color over the last 100 years. The first lawn tennis players in England wore formal attire when playing. Standard tennis clothes for women were full-length dresses. Men wore long pants and formal, long sleeve shirts. The tennis clothes of both men and women were entirely white in color. Contrast this formal style with the tennis clothes worn by the tennis players of today. Modern tennis players favor synthetic fabrics, more athletic clothing styles, and a greater variety of colors.
The evolution of tennis clothes has mirrored the changes in everyday fashion. For example, male tennis players in the 1970’s and 1980’s favored short, tight-fitting shorts and traditional polo shirts. In the late 1990’s and 2000’s, male tennis players began to wear larger, looser shorts and more casual shirts. In addition, female tennis players of the 1970’s and 1980’s favored traditional tennis clothes with an updated style. Popular clothing included shortened tennis skirts and dresses. Today’s women tennis players wear a variety of tennis clothes, ranging from tennis skirts and dresses to shorts and t-shirts. While tennis players still wear white at more traditional clubs (e.g. Wimbledon), there is a much larger variety of colors in modern tennis clothes.
Another factor contributing to the evolution of tennis clothes is the increased athleticism in the modern game. Tennis is now a high intensity sport, requiring tremendous physical effort and exertion. Tennis players must be able to run, cut, jump, and twist all while executing precise tennis strokes to hit a ball often moving at high speeds. Consequently, comfort is a major concern of players. Modern tennis players prefer tennis clothes that are lightweight, fit well, repel moisture, and are generally comfortable. Tennis clothes that keep the body cool and dry can help players counteract the physical toll that playing tennis, especially in hot weather, can exact.
Advances in clothing technology have also contributed to the evolution of tennis clothes. For years, cotton was the fabric of choice for tennis clothes. In the last few years, however, many tennis apparel makers have introduced garments made of new, synthetic fibers. Tennis clothes made of these synthetic fibers help remove sweat from the skin and clothing by wicking moisture away from the body. Examples of these clothing technologies are Adidas’s ClimaCool brand and Nike’s Dri-FIT. Most professional tennis players and many recreational tennis players now wear tennis clothes made with these new technologies because they keep them cooler and drier than traditional tennis wear.
In conclusion, tennis clothes have seen many changes over the years. While tennis clothes maintain some of their formality and traditional style, modern tennis players value comfort and individual style over tradition. Increased athleticism, advances in technology, and changes in general fashion have greatly affected the tennis clothing industry. In addition, breaking from their traditional roots, tennis clothes have become a medium for personal expression of individual style and important pieces of equipment in an increasingly physical sport.