For a tennis player to participate in Wimbledon, they must adhere to the Grand Slam tournament’s strict dress code of all-white attire. But for at least 20 female athletes sponsored by Nike, that means wearing a dress that has received criticism for being too revealing.
While Nike’s “Premier Slam” dress is, in fact white, it’s also incredibly flowy, as was evident when Czech Republic tennis ace Lucie Safarova wore the dress earlier this week. The dress, which doesn’t have a waistline, kept floating up, exposing Safarova’s midriff and white shorts, as seen in a series of images on The Daily Mail.
The Mail reports that tennis stars Serena Williams and Sabina Lisicki both refused to wear the controversial dress, though Williams ended up wearing a dress especially designed for her by Nike.
Additionally, some of the athletes who wore the Premier Slam dress ended up making their own alterations to try to keep it in place.
British tennis player Katie Boulter apparently headband around the waist of the dress to keep it from floating up, while Czech player Lucie Hradecká wore the dress as a tank top with white leggings during a qualifying match at Roehampton, according to Yahoo Style.
Swedish tennis player Rebecca Peterson also wore a long-sleeved shirt over her dress to hold it in place, the New York Times reported.
“When I was serving, it was coming up, and I felt like the dress was just everywhere. In general, it’s quite simple, the dress, but it was flying everywhere,” Peterson told the Times.
Yet, not every female athlete wearing the dress has complaints. Canadian tennis player Eugenie Bouchard told sports network TSN that she liked the design, the Times reported.
“For me, I love it. It’s nice and short so you can move around and be free with your movements. Yeah, I don’t know. It’s funny that people paid a lot of attention to it, but I really think it’s really nice,” Bouchard told TSN.
After receiving complaints from players that the £75 ($100) dress hinders their ability to actually play tennis, Nike asked them to send it back for alterations just days before the main draw kicked off, the Daily Mail reported.
However, Nike told Yahoo Style in a statement, “The product has not been recalled, and we often customise products and make alterations for athletes as they compete. We work closely with our athletes to provide them with product that helps them perform and feel their best on the court.”
A spokesperson for the All England Club, which runs Wimbledon, said that the dress was an issue for Nike alone. “We approved it because it fully complies with our colour regulations,” he said.
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