What has been, will be again. What has been done will be done again…there is nothing new under the sun. This Biblical statement is definitely true at the junction where fashion and sport meet, and is especially true with the game of tennis. After all, you have to tip your hat to the game that gave birth to America’s favorite theme party for both the young and old, the rich and the “hood rich”…the infamous “All White Party”.
Have you ever wondered where rapper Pharrell Williams got his pension for polo shirts and “nerdy” black rimmed glasses? That look was perfected long ago by tennis great and social activist, Arthur Ashe.
You know that diamond trinket all the ladies love called a “tennis bracelet”? The bejeweled favorite would garner it’s name courtesy of the player with the best “win” record in tennis history, Chris Evert. The former #1 player had a mishap with her diamond-studded wristlet during the 1987 U.S. Open, halting the tournament for the first time ever so she could recover her jewels.
You didn’t think your friendly-neighborhood-hipster came up with that grundgy, European look all on his own? No my friends, that came from the great Swedish, headband-wearing heartthrob, Bjorn Borg.
And let’s not forget a famous French tennis player, nicknamed the “Crocodile” due to his ferociousness on the court. Rene Lacoste, winner of seven Grand Slam titles…yep, you probably have one of his famous shirts in your closet.
Also, the First Lady of Fashion, Vogue’s Anna Wintour has begun to attend the opening matches of the U.S. Open to see her lastest BFF, Roger Federer. The Finals happen to land smack in the middle of New York Fashion Week, which allows a natural overlap of the two events for players, fashion insiders, and tourists alike. And, in recent years, tennis has evolved into as much of a sports match, as a fashion show…thanks to Venus and Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, and the love affair Americans have developed for anything featuring Federer and Nadal.
Here’s my timeline that shows the merging of tennis and if you love fashion…LIKE me on Facebook and FOLLOW me on Twitter!!
- 1919 – Suzanne Lenglen wins Wimbledon in a knee length dress with three-quarter sleeves. Reportedly women leave the match, calling the display of her legs “shocking.”
- 1927 – René Lacoste becomes known as the “Crocodile” after he makes a bet before a match to win a crocodile-skin suitcase. Friends later have a croc emblem embroidered onto his shirts and blazers.
- 1933 – Helen Jacobs shows up to play in bermuda shorts. The Prince of Wales later states, “They are … quite the most practical costume for the game, and I don’t think the wearers lose anything in looks.” In other words, I likey.
- 1949 – “Gorgeous” Gussy Moran causes a stir at Wimbledon by wearing lace-trimmed panties beneath her tennis skirt. British photographers lie flat on the ground in order to shoot her from the “bottom up”.
- 1968 – Arthur Ashe wins the first U.S. Open wearing would be known today as a hip-hop hipster ensemble, short shorts and black-rimmed glasses.
- 1970 – The American TV audience complains that they can’t tell the players apart in all-white outfits. For the first time, the U.S. Open permits pastel.
- 1974 – “Battle of the Sexes” superchamp Billie Jean King gives singer Elton John a uniform. In turn, John writes “Philadelphia Freedom” named after the team King played for.
- 1976 – Hipster-honey Björn Borg takes the first of five consecutive Wimbledons. Later, he starts a wildly popular underwear line.
- 1987 –Chris Evert halts play at the U.S. Open when she loses her diamond-studded bracelet on the court. Jewelers like Tiffany & Co. and Bulgari begin to create their own versions of the Evert “tennis bracelet.”
- 1990 – Andre Agassi plays the French Open in hot pink adornments. The tournament’s director states he will institute a white-clothing rule. In response, Agassi moves into a lime-green phase.
- 1991 – Andre Agassi removes his warm-up suit at Wimbledon to reveal an all-white ensemble, with white Lycra shorts peeking out from under white denim…causing the crowd to erupt in applause.
- 2002 – U.S. Open champ Serena Williams plays a match in a shiny, skintight black bodysuit making men in office buildings across America…immediate tennis fans.
- 2007 – Maria Sharapova loses her U.S. Open title while wearing a Nike dress emblazened with 600 Swarovski crystals, to resemble the New York City skyline.
- Present Day – The athletic rivalry between Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal crosses into the fashion world, with Nadal as a spokeman for Armani Underwear. Federer is endorsed by Mercedes-Benz, the official sponsor of both the U.S. Open and New York Fashion Week.
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