Tennis dress codes: sexist

Category:  Opinions
Wednesday, September 12th, 2018 at 5:05 PM

What do Serena Williams, a well-known name, and Alize Cornet, a not so well-known name, have in common? Both are bringing attention to the ridiculous rules of tennis. 

Williams caused a controversy when she wore a body suit to play in the French Open. Cornet was playing in the U.S. Open and when after a heat break she noticed her shirt was backwards, she fixed it and was issued a warning. Immediately, social media reacted. Judy Murray, a tennis coach, was one of the first to post about it on Twitter and one of the first to jump to Cornet’s defense. 

The incident immediately drew cries of sexism as male players are allowed to change their shirts. The U.S. Open issued an apology stating that the warning should not have happened, and they have changed their code violation rules. Now, if a female player chose to, they may change in a more private location without being assessed a bathroom break. 

The U.S. Open may have changed their policy, but the violation was in line with general grand slam rules. 

Cornet accepted the apology, but also pointed out that the cat suit comment by the head of the French Open about Williams was 10,000 times worse.3 

Williams’ body suit caused the president of the French Open to say the “outfit went too far” and that it “wouldn’t be back” as it “didn’t respect the game,” during an interview with a magazine.

This isn’t the first time that women’s tennis has had controversies with its fashion. Anne White wore a white catsuit in 1985; she was also told not to wear it, though this was at Wimbledon which is known for their strict dress code. 

This isn’t the first time that Williams has worn a cat suit either; she wore a short catsuit in 2002 at the U.S. Open. Williams, as one of the best, often deals with criticism and has dealt with it through most of her career. She wore her hair covered in beads as a teenager and was penalized for them when they began falling from her hair. 

Williams did not react badly to the news that she could not wear her catsuit. She moved on from it and wore a tutu in her next match. Williams fans are upset because the suit was used partly to help her deal with blood clots, something she didn’t hide. 

These women that spend their entire lives dedicated to a sport should be able to wear what they want, whether it be a catsuit that helps them deal with health issues, or changing their shirt because it’s on backwards. 

Athletes give their game everything they have, and they have specific tastes in clothes, brands and training style. Businesses like Nike and Adidas are constantly improving uniforms and shoes to help improve athletes’ performance, so why can’t women wear leggings or bodysuits if they think they perform better in them? 

Erica Burkholder can be reached at

Tags: voices

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