October 3, 2022

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WIMBLEDON, England — Before being interviewed on center court about his return to the Wimbledon quarter-finals, Nick Kyrgios swapped his all-white tennis shoes for a pair of red and white basketball sneakers and swapped his white hat against a red one.

Big deal? Not in Kyrgios. Not by much, probably. Yet that seemed to be the case for a reporter who peppered him with questions about it afterwards.

That’s because the All England Club has a pretty strict all-white clothing policy while players are on the match pitches during the tournament – which is clearly a nod to the early days of tennis, and some athletes think it might have been better suited to the 1880s than the 2020s.

“I mean, I always want to wear black, obviously,” replied Kyrgios, a 27-year-old Australian who takes on Chile’s Cristian Garin on Wednesday, when asked about the dress code during a conference of press before the tournament he attended. a black hoodie and a matching cap.

“It would be cool to allow, for example, a black headband or a black sweatband. I think it would look cool,” Kyrgios said. “Obviously Wimbledon doesn’t really care what looks cool.”

Neither Kyrgios, nor anyone else, expects the rules to change any time soon. And there are certainly those who appreciate it as part of what they see as the charm of tennis’ oldest Grand Slam event.

“For me, what I love about Wimbledon is the tradition and that’s what makes it so special, and having the all-white outfit is one of the little traditions that I really embrace. It has l look clean, especially against the grass pitch,” said Alison Riske-Amritraj, who reached the third round as the 28th seed. ‘year. It’s very professional. I would wear white for every game, everywhere, so I’m probably biased about that.

The first of the All England Club’s 10-point dress guidelines states: “Competitors must be dressed in appropriate tennis attire which is almost entirely white and this applies from the time the player enters the grounds of the ground.” The second stipulation: “White does not include off-white or cream.” There are also more details, such as a colored border “around the neckline and around the sleeve cuffs is acceptable but should not be wider” than one centimeter (less than half an inch) , that “caps (including the underside of the visor), headbands, bandanas, wristbands and socks must be all white except for “the same size allowance for trim”, and this: “Shoes should be almost entirely white. Soles and laces must be completely white. Major manufacturer logos are not encouraged.

That’s just fine with some of the “competitors”.

Tommy Paul, who was seeded 30th and came through in the fourth round, said the Royal Palm Tennis Club in Pinecrest, Florida – where head pro is Eric Hechtman, who has coached Serena Williams and Venus Williams – demands all white when he trains there. .

“It doesn’t bother me at all. It’s pretty cool,” Paul said. “If I see guys doing it at home in practice then I have no problem doing it for Wimbledon.”

A player at this year’s tournament said she was always worried about getting her white outfit dirty while eating. Some say they were annoyed at having to find new clothes to be able to play at Wimbledon. Others were delighted.

“It’s very elegant. I really hope they keep this tradition forever, because it’s something different. You don’t always need to see colors on people’s clothes,” said Mihaela Buzarnescu, a Romanian who lost to French Open finalist Coco Gauff last week. “Every year I think, ‘Oh, white again. Let’s go!'”

Over the years, players have been reprimanded for breaking the letter or spirit of the written rules.

In 2013, for example, none other than Roger Federer, now an eight-time champion, showed up with neon orange soles on his boots for his first round match, which he won – then, er, the club gave him recalled Wimbledon rules, so he switched to white soles ahead of his second-round match, which he lost, his first Grand Slam outing in a decade.

In 2007, Tatiana Golovin performed at Wimbledon in red underwear under her white dress, leading to this opening exchange at a press conference:

Journalist: “Can I ask you about your panties?”

Golovin: “Excuse me? »

“Could it be maybe a little more up to date? Sure. We are in 2022,” said Jessica Pegula, seeded No.8 this year and reaching the fourth round at the All England Club for the first time. “Again, it’s two weeks out of the schedule where you have to do it. It’s part of what makes Wimbledon, Wimbledon.

More AP Wimbledon coverage: https://apnews.com/hub/wimbledon and https://apnews.com/hub/tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports