The real reason players wear white at Wimbledon
There is one reason and one reason alone why Wimbledon is so strict about it's all-white dress code. It all comes down to S-W-E-A-T.
Believe it or not, the reason for the all-white dress code is a little ridicuous. Dating back to the 19th century, it was because sweat patches on players' clothing was deemed uncouth.
In the 1800s when the tournament was first introduced to the public, it was considered unthinkable to have visible sweat patches on your clothing, even if you spent most of your time running around a tennis court hitting balls back and forth. The then rule-makers at Wimbledon decided that there was one way to save the fragile disposition of the watching public and white would minimise sweat patches on clothing.
Britannica.com writes: "From that period on, “tennis whites” were considered the standard attire for well-heeled tennis players, which described everyone who played in the first Wimbledon tournaments. Once that rule was prescribed in the dress code, the tradition-loving Wimbledon was loath to remove it."
It is one rule however that both players and brands try their hardest to flout — the all-white dress code rule that is so specific that even off-white or cream will not make the cut. It gets even more stringent however when it come to just how much colour the clothes can have. Everything is regulated, right down to the amount of colour that’s allowed on necklines, the cuffs of sleeves or headbands.
Players like Serena Williams and Maria Sharapove have been known to flout this rule with their brightly coloured pink or orange shorts. Andre Agassi famously boycotted the tournament in retaliation to the strict dress code in the 1990s. As players found inventive ways to get around this rule since it was implemented, Wimbledon officials began to update the rulebook frequently to get rid of any and all vagueness. They famously told off Roger Federer for wearing orange soled tennis shoes with his all-white outfit.
Wimbledon now states emphatically: "White does not include off-white or cream; there should be no solid mass or panel of colouring; a single trim of colour around the neckline and around the cuff of the sleeve is acceptable but must be no wider than 1cm; shoes must be almost entirely white, including the soles; and any undergarments that either are or can be visible during play (including due to perspiration) must also be completely white except for a single trim of colour no wider than 1cm."
“White, white, full-on white,” Roger Federer said in 2014 in response to rules updates. “I think it’s very strict. My personal opinion: I think it’s too strict.”
Given the antiquated dress code, it really doesn't come as a surprise that while the tournament is considered prestigious, it's also considered dated and ruled by old foggies.