Vintage Wimbledon Women
Women have not had it easy at Wimbledon. Playing was especially difficult in the early days when they had to play wearing long, heavy, dresses, stockings, corsets and, not visors, not headbands but hats— yes— hats.
In 1890, this fifteen year old English school girl, Lottie Dod, won Wimbledon. How about that hat and the leg o mutton sleeves on her dress. I hope her opponents were similarly constricted.
Suzanne Lenglen was a French tennis powerhouse who won the women’s singles championship five out of six years between 1919 and 1925. She played with style and verve and dressed the same way. She shocked the public by playing, not constricted by corsets, in calf length, loose fitting white dresses that were SLEEVELESS. She was the very model of the 1920’s flapper. Check out that headband and can you imagine wearing those white stockings?
By the 1930’s when Californian, Helen Wills Moody, was playing this women’s semi finals match at Wimbledon, the stockings had gone the way of the corsets and flapper style headbands. Helen introduced the golf eye shade to the courts and played in a comfortable white blouse and knee length skirt.
In 1949, Gertrude ” Gorgeous Gussie” Moran shook things up at staid Wimbledon by wearing what was at the time, a very short tennis skirt, under which her lace trimmed panties were clearly visible. The outfit was a statement. Gussie had wanted to wear colors on the court and was told in no uncertain terms that it was ” tennis whites ” only at Wimbledon. Mooning the stands with white lace undies was Gussie’s revenge.
We’ve come a long way baby from corsets, bustles stockings and prim tennis hats to sporty headbands and easy to move in, fashion forward tennis dresses.
Congrats to this year’s winner Petra Kvitova, seen here at her ” game, set, match” moment.
NB: For an excellent timeline and some detailed historical information on Wimbledon women, check out Wimbledon Fashion Through the Ages