Why will there be protests at Wimbledon? Campaign explained

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A group of activists are set to protest the dress code at Wimbledon amid concerns over periods for female players.

Recreational tennis player Gabriella Holmes, 26, and soccer player Holly Gordon, 28, launched the Address The Dress Code campaign to highlight the anxiety women face when competing in traditional white.

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The pair lead a protest outside the gates of the SW19 site at 12pm on Saturday ahead of the women’s singles final, hoping to get Wimbledon to react to the issue.

Here’s everything you need to know about the protest.

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What is the dress code at Wimbledon?

On its website, Wimbledon dictates the dress code for players as follows:

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  • Competitors must wear appropriate tennis attire that is almost entirely white and this applies from the point the player enters the court environment.
  • White does not include off-white or cream.
  • There should be no solid mass or color chart. A single stripe of color around the neckline and around the cuffs of the sleeves is acceptable, but must not be more than one centimeter (10mm) wide.
  • Color contained in samples is measured as if it were a solid mass of color and should be within the 1 centimeter (10mm) guide. Logos consisting of material or pattern variations are not acceptable.
  • The back of a shirt, dress, track top or sweater must be completely white.
  • Shoes must be almost entirely white. Soles and laces must be completely white. Large manufacturer logos are not desired. Turf shoes must comply with Grand Slam rules. In particular, shoes with nubs on the outside of the toes are not permitted. The foxing stain around the toes must be smooth.
  • Any undergarments that are or may be visible during play (including through perspiration) must also be entirely white, with the exception of a single stripe of color no more than one centimeter (10mm) wide. In addition, common standards of decency are required at all times.
  • Medical aids and equipment should be white if possible, but may be colored if necessary. A more relaxed dress code applies at the practice sites in Aorangi Park.
  • Shorts, skirts and tracksuit bottoms must be all white except for a single stripe of color on the outseam no wider than one centimeter (10mm).
  • Caps (including under beaks), headbands, bandanas, wristbands and socks must be entirely white except for a single stripe of color no more than one centimeter (10 mm) wide.
FINALS WEEKEND: On Saturday and Sunday at Wimbledon. Image: Getty Images.

How will they protest?

The protesters will wear skirts with red briefs inspired by Tatiana Golovin, the former French player who wore red shorts under her skirt at the 2007 championship, which drew widespread media attention.

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The demonstration also comes after British doubles star Alicia Barnett recently spoke out about the stress of having to dress in white during her period.

Barnett told the PA news agency at Wimbledon last week: “I think some traditions could be changed.

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“Personally, I’m a massive advocate for women’s rights and I just love this discussion.”

Novak Djokovic leads the applause for Britain’s No.1 Cameron Norrie after winning the men’s singles semi-final at Wimbledon. Image: Ryan Pierse/Getty Images

What did the protesters say?

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Gabriella Holmes said they want to raise awareness of how decisions made at the top affect young girls.

“We just started having conversations about how many young girls drop out of the sport when they hit puberty,” she said.

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“Of course a lot depends on body image and general confidence.

“The talks about dress codes are part of that and what we could do to try to break down these barriers that keep young girls from playing sports after puberty.”

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The 26-year-old added that they say the Wimbledon bosses need to introduce a “drastic” change.

“We understand that they have traditions that they want to uphold,” she said.

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“We’re not looking to completely disregard Wimbledon traditions – we rather believe they can evolve over time.”

What did the protesters propose?

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Ms Gordon suggested women could wear the official Wimbledon colors under their skirts instead.

The 28-year-old said: “I think if the Wimbledon board turns a blind eye to what professional tennis players have already been talking about, what about young girls?

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“So what we hope is that our campaign and the fallout from this process will stimulate that conversation and get them to sit down and have that discussion.”

Ms Holmes added rule changes could mean young girls are not put off from tennis because they feel welcome in the sport.

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“Young girls are getting out of the sport at their prime – it could be a completely missed opportunity for something that’s really important to them,” she said.

“Ultimately those rules were written a long time ago and the board is still mostly male and I think it’s important to consider the female athletes and hopefully change those decisions at the top.”

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