Another year of the Australian Open, and another year of lamenting what could have been if men and women players embraced the outlandish, individual stylings of yesteryear.
Back in the day – we’re talking, oh, seventies especially – stars wore what they wanted. They weren’t strangled by mega deals into wearing what corporate deals demanded. You all remember it: bobble socks, halter neck dresses, short shorts.
As fans gear up to watch a fortnight’s worth of tennis in Melbourne, we expect it to be replete with athletes dressed in predictable neon, bland patterning and copycat couture. Few seem to stand out from the crowd.
So it got The New Daily thinking — who were the fashion-forward aces who not only put their stamp on the tennis court, but also served up memorable look after memorable look?
Note: This is by all means not a comprehensive list — be sure to leave your comments with your favorite tennis fashion icons of all time.
Cutting against the grain typified Andre Agassi’s career — from his famous self-confessed hatred of the game (in spite of his raging success), to the fashions he embraced on-court. And of course, he oozed cool. The American eight-time Slam winner’s legacy spans pairs of denim cutoffs more at home on Venice Beach than Paris, a glam rock-esque mullet, and bold patterns that matched his fiery persona. No 1.
The Ice Man’s go-to ensemble of a pin-striped Fila button-up, taut white short shorts and headband with blue-and-red accents screams vintage country club chic. The winner of five consecutive Wimbledon titles in the 70s, Borg had an aestheticwhich is experiencing a reincarnation through Greek firebrand Stefanos Tsitsipas. His vibe? From court to rocking bar, and beyond. Bring it back.
Timeless, preppy, and ergonomic. The American hero knew how to pair instantly iconic 70s-inspired outfits with bold jewelery that always seemed to pass Coco Chanel’s test of less is more. And after hoisting the esteemed Wimbledon trophy in 1975, Ashe marked the historic occasion with a fetching varsity jacket. Who didn’t want to go to the disco with this man?
This won’t be the last time Italian fashion house Sergio Tacchini makes this shortlist. Cash was renowned for pairing his bold accented shirts with that well-worn headband, always chequered in a simple black-and-white color scheme. Tennis equals sexy.
The conservative customs of early 20th century tennis fashion were dismantled largely because of the chic work of Lenglen, a six-time Wimbledon winner. The Frenchwoman courted controversy in the 1920s after commissioning countryman Jean Patou to create a pleated skirt that fell just above the knee — complete sacrilege during these times.
The American sweetheart, and ruthless counterpuncher to boot, typically wore variations of the classic v-neck with accents that always seemed to fit well within pastel territory. Would any 2020 player wear a halter neck? They should. 5pm cocktails meets My Serve Will Kill Yours.
While never making any major inroads at the majors, American tennis player White turned heads in a striking all-white Wimbledon onesie in 1985, befitting the All England Lawn Tennis Club’s strict dress code. However, opponents were none too pleased — her opponent, Pam Shriver, urged tournament officials to never allow her to wear the ensemble again. We want to know which wardrobe it’s hanging in now.
American John McEnroe partnered with Sergio Tacchini over the years to help push his notorious rivalry with Borg to new heights. They Both dressed in similar colors, but McEnroe’s seemingly triumphant hair contained by a bold red sweatband added another dimension. And his shorts were cut just below the modesly line? This fashion is timeless and any current day playing wanting to be a hit should take note.
To round out this shortlist, we turned to the modern-day fashion icon herself: Serena. Since securing a collaboration with Nike on custom-made outfits, the 23-time grand slam champion has pulled out countless head-turning looks. Most recently, her empowering catsuit at the 2018 French Open (not only for stylistic purposes, but to prevent blood clots after having daughter Olympia) brewed controversy after it fell foul with highfalutin’ Parisian organisers. We say it’s ace.