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Anyone for Tenniscore? It's game, set and match for fashion's new sporting obsession

Marcus Jaye
07 June 2023

Wimbledon and the AELTC (The All England Lawn Tennis Club) are notorious sticklers for the rules. And, quite rightly so. Famous for the insistence of all white on court, its strict dress codes have given the tournament a consistency, visually for both men and women, since its beginnings in 1877.

Head of Retail & Merchandise, David Hewitt, at Wimbledon - AELTC (The All England Lawn Tennis Club), says: “We’re lucky in that tennis has always been connected to fashion – as one of the few sports that allowed women to play alongside men, appearance was taken into consideration by all genders from the very beginning.”

Tenniscore Wimbledon

Wimbledon's new retail collection

The All England Lawn Tennis Club unveiled its 2023 Wimbledon Retail Collection, which for the first time includes semi-formal attire designed to be worn to watch, as well as play, the sport. The addition of this capsule to the collection comes as data revealed fans are curious about the Wimbledon dress code, with a 404% spike in ‘What to wear to Wimbledon’ and ‘Wimbledon dress code’ online searches recorded in the three weeks preceding the event last year.

White sportswear is instantly associated with tennis, Wimbledon and the sunny, global lifestyle the game promotes. It is one of the world’s most glamourous sports and many luxury brands are tapping into the ‘Tenniscore’ trend. French fashion house Celine recently released a capsule “La Collection Tennis” collection alongside a campaign shot in St. Tropez.

Celine Tenniscore

Celine's recently released tennis collection

“Health and fitness is more prominent than ever in people’s minds, so styling that unites multiple moods and aesthetics, mixing informal and formal pieces, is an approach to dressing that came to the fore in 2020 and is here to stay.” says Wimbledon's Hewitt.

“I think the huge growth in everyday tennis fashion has been driven through social media, with #tenniscore trending across TikTok in the last year or so. We’re looking to capitalise on that this year, because where better to get your pleated skort or tennis dress from than the world’s home of tennis?” he says.

Wimbledon’s rules state that 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.

In Nov 2022, Wimbledon and AELTC announced a wardrobe concession for 2023. Hence the asterisk. Female players can now wear dark-coloured undershorts beneath their skirts or shorts. The change comes after current and former players described the stress of having to wear an all-white ensemble at the tennis tournament while on their menstrual periods.

Exeat // Tenniscore

EXEAT's Monte Carlo tennis dress

Laura Ward, Creative Director of EXEAT, the world’s leading luxury British tennis apparel brand for women, says, “The concept of ‘Tenniscore’ is great for business as it opens up our styles to a broader audience and positions tennis as a sartorially elevated lifestyle sport, which it absolutely is.”

Ward thinks tennis has an unmatched fashion pedigree, more so than any other sport. She notes that the best sellers in Gabrielle Chanel’s first clothing line were tennis dresses and it was a Chanel tennis dress that scored her very first transatlantic mention in American Vogue. The legendary Parisienne couturier Jean Patou in the 1920’s famously dressed tennis’ first female icon Suzanne Lenglen for court, causing a stir with shorter hems and bare arms, not to mention iconic player slash fashion designer Fred Perry and of course Serena William’s inimitable court style which always hit the global headlines.

“Tennis is the fastest growing sport in the world with the LTA - Lawn Tennis Association - reporting a 372% uptick in tennis participation since the pandemic.” says Ward.  “All of a sudden there is an abundance of players, all shopping for new kit, plus tennis famously has the most affluent demographic in sport, so your customer is likely to have some disposable income. It’s a no brainer for the right brand,” she says.

“The pandemic changed everything ­– tennis was one of the only sports the nation was allowed to play during lock-down meaning people who hadn’t picked up a racquet since school were suddenly flooding on to court for a chance to move their body and socialise,” says Ward.


Sir Andy Murray in Castore

Ward thinks the perception of tennis shifted over-night from ultra-sporty, difficult and a bit elitist, to something all-together more fun and accessible. The emergence of sister sports Padel and Pickleball – which are both much simpler to pick up – cemented tennis’ re-brand and popularity.

“This new breed of player, who was there to have a good time, demanded way more from their kit than four-way-stretch – they wanted to get into the spirit of tennis, dress up for court, but also be able to transition from play to coffee on the Kings Road to the school run. As a result we notice our best sellers at EXEAT, aren’t the skin-tight hyper-sporty numbers of ‘pre-pandemic’, they’re the playfully polished silhouettes that flatter the form and combine performance with stylish resonance beyond the tennis court,” Ward says.

Ward says ‘Tenniscore’ goes far beyond simply white sportswear. “It’s luxe technical fabric, indulgent textures, debonair tailoring, razor sharp pleating and heritage silhouettes with a modern twist. We’re entering an exciting new era of tennis style, case in point at this year at Wimbledon the All England Club are allowing female players to wear coloured undershorts – breaking a 164-year ‘all white’ dress code.”


Varley's Decker "off-court" cardigan

Tenniscore has a strong crossover from participation to watching to just enjoying the look. Brands such as Castore have partnered with Andy Murray in his AMC collection, while Nike Tennis has some of the biggest names in tennis like Naomi Osaka wearing its colourful collection of directional pieces. New generation lifestyle and leisurewear brands have enthusiastically adopted the category offering looks to be worn on and off-court, such as Varley's 'Court' collection and Vuori's 'Court to Resort' line.

Tenniscore will start to filter into the high-street further. No doubt, brands such as Reiss will do what they did with golf and move into the trend and produce pieces like pleated white skirts, sleeveless tops and blazers.

Tennis is one of the true lifestyle sports and is associated with style and socialising for all genders (and all ages) equally. Brands will be attracted to this aspirational demographic who see tennis as the sport to emulate.

Main image: Wimbledon's 2023 retail collection

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