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Nike’s Wimbledon’ nightie’- the most impractical sportswear ever?

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Players have criticised the 75 dress for being too reveal, and getting in the way of their shots. Its not the first time style has trumped practicality at the All-England Club

Underwear scandals are common in SW19. Last year, it was the Canadian Eugenie Bouchards black bra strap; in 2014, retired humen champion Pat Cash denounced pre-match underwear checks. And this year, it is Czech player Lucie afovs Nike tennis dress, which ballooned all game to uncover her knickers.

Few things unite Wimbledon crowds( sorry, Andy) like a perceived slight against the tournaments strictures. But, more to the point: why did Nike design such an impractical dress for the female players it sponsors?

This was, in fact, the second iteration of the 75 Premier Slam dress: Nike asked players to return it for modifications last week. Serena Williams and Sabine Lisicki have both reportedly refused to wear it. I tried it on but didnt feeling comfortable showing that much, Lisicki said. Poor 17 -year old Katie Swan fought with the dress during her defeat to Tmea Babos yesterday afternoon. Midway through, she tucked it into her shorts.

Nike likely has departments devoted to wearer trials, tells Sally Dixon, the founder of activewear brand Every Second Counts. Im very surprised. She is sympathetic to Swans frustrated mid-match alteration. Players dont expect to have to redesign kit to make it fit for purpose.

Notoriously, Wimbledons code is the most difficult on the grand slam circuit. Intimidating guidelines demand competitors be dressed in suitable tennis attire that is almost entirely white as soon as they enter the court surround. They are reminded that white does not include off-white or cream. In 2013, Roger Federer was berated because his shoes had orange soles. Furthermore, women must negotiate the dynamic between style, propriety and functionality: brands, keen to appeal to female consumers chasing the athleisure tendency, are most interested in the first. And it is virtually mandated that women playing at the elite level wear( very) small skirts although at least they permit motion. In the 1920 s, the French champion Suzanne Lenglen wore a ballooning midiskirt to play at Wimbledon. Admittedly, she also drink Cognac on court.

The obsession with outfits is surely a backhanded sexualisation of the womens game. From Athenas Tennis Girl poster to celebrated but undecorated pin-up Anna Kournikova, girls in tennis whites are fetishised, their bellowing grunts the subject of flip sexism. When commentators clocked Simona Haleps breast reduction surgery, the British player Laura Robson was furious. You assure what she can do with the ball, she said at the time. I dont see how you can bring in boob to the conversation.

Anyway, Nikes nightie clearly wont do. What should tennis kit look like? Fitted, for an increased scope of motion, suggests Dixon. It should be second skin. What you wear should be the last thing on your mind. Never so at Wimbledon.

Read more: www.theguardian.com

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