Activists are urging Wimbledon organizers to abandon the tournament’s strict all-white dress code due to concerns from menstruating players.
A group of protesters wearing white skirts with red undershorts arrived at the main gate of Wimbledon on Saturday, ahead of the ladies’ singles final between Ons Jabeur and Elena Rybakina.
Recreational tennis player Gabriella Holmes, 26, and footballer Holly Gordon, 28, said they organized the campaign, Address The Dress Code, to highlight the anxiety women face when competing in traditional white .
Speaking to The Guardian, Holmes said the couple started calling for change after they opened up to each other about the challenges of playing sports while on their period, citing this as one of the main reasons for which young girls stop participating when they reach puberty.
She says the tournament’s dress code has become stricter in recent years, particularly after France’s Tatiana Golovin wore red shorts under her skirt during the 2007 championship – inspiring protesters’ outfits – sparking media attention.
“You can maintain tradition while staying in tune with the times. There’s no point in maintaining tradition just for tradition’s sake,” Holmes said.
“They have become stricter over the years. In fact, the dress code has often become stricter in reaction to players wearing different clothes. We don’t want to go back. We want them to evolve over time.
Holmes and Gordon were among those gathered outside Wimbledon on Saturday, holding banners with slogans such as ‘About bloody time’, ‘Address the dress code’ and ‘You can do it Ian Hewitt’, referring to the chairman of the All England Club .
She added that one option could be to allow women to choose to wear the Wimbledon purple and green colors as an option for undershorts.
“We came today because we want Wimbledon to address the white dress code which does not take into consideration female athletes during their periods,” continued Holmes.
“We want to let Wimbledon know that the rules they set at the top, they’re already all filtering down to the grassroots levels. We’re already seeing tons of young girls dropping out of the sport when they start their period or when they reach puberty, they have completely stopped sports.
“We think it’s time to tackle those barriers for young girls getting into the sport and it starts at the top, so it’s Wimbledon. We want women to be able to focus on tennis and on the sport and not have to worry about other factors when competing at this level.
Speaking to the PA news agency, Gordon added: “The conversation around women’s sport, in general, is gaining momentum, so this conversation shouldn’t really come as a surprise.
“We’re not hoping to drastically change the all-white dress code, we just want to modify it and keep in mind practicality for women instead of maintaining traditions basically for tradition’s sake.
“We ultimately want it to be the choice of women as to what would actually alleviate stress or shame when it comes to competing professionally in front of the world.”
British doubles star Alicia Barnett recently opened up about the stress of having to compete in white while on her period.
“I think some traditions could be changed,” Barnett told the PA news agency last week, saying that as a women’s rights advocate, “having this discussion is just amazing.”
A Wimbledon spokesperson said: “Prioritizing women’s health and supporting players according to their individual needs is very important to us, and we are in discussion with the WTA, with manufacturers and with teams. doctors on how to do it.