IIn some neighborhoods, the tennis style transmits heritage, tradition and perhaps a bit of suffocation. But thanks in part to TikTok, a younger generation is finding credibility and freshness in its folds, whether they’ve already picked up a racket or are planning to watch Wimbledon when they start on Monday.

The trend has been popular on social media for months, where people are pairing traditional tennis skirts that wouldn’t have looked out of place on Billie Jean King with Nirvana hoodies and court tops. This abundance of TikTokers wearing court-appropriate outfits – not just skirts but also Venus Williams Approved Skort and polo shirts – led to the rise of an aesthetic called tenniscore.

Naomi Osaka on the cover of Vogue Japon Photography: Instagram account @naomiosaka

A plethora of brands produce tennis-inspired clothing, such as the Paris-based Casablanca-based retro silk shorts and track tops. On the Lyst shopping platform, the demand for tennis skirts has tripled this month compared to a year ago, searches for silk polo shirts increased by 21% and searches for vintage sweatshirts with the logo ” tennis club ‘increased by 12%.

The increase in sales coincided with the arrival of a new generation of female tennis stars in fashion. Reigning US Open and Australian Open champion Naomi Osaka appeared on Japan’s latest cover Vogue, having appeared last year on the American version. In January, she became Louis Vuitton ambassador and in May launched a swimsuit collaboration with Frankies Bikinis.

Meanwhile, 17-year-old Coco Gauff was recently featured in the campaign for New Balance and Casablanca’s latest designs. Both players’ Instagrams look as much like an influencer feed as they do a top athlete, with mirror selfies and fashion ads.

Anne White bred hackles at Wimbledon in 1985 with her catsuit.
Anne White bred hackles at Wimbledon in 1985 with her catsuit. Photograph: Getty Images

These players, says Anne White, a former professional tennis player and now coach in Los Angeles, “are able to cross-market that and express themselves as well. And because tennis isn’t as traditional as it used to be, people can incorporate a lot more colors and creative ideas. This makes it exciting and definitely draws more attention to the players and intrigues the fans as well. “

White has an interesting perspective on the style of tennis, having worn a white jumpsuit to play at Wimbledon in 1985 and he was told unequivocally not to wear it anymore. While her dress choice was primarily, she says, function-oriented, she was also “a maverick, I was 24 and wanted to wake up the establishment a bit.”

What does she think of the current tennis trend? “I think TikTokers think it’s a bit retro-cool,” she says. Plus, “If you look at the global extent of what’s going on in the world, we’ve gone from casual Fridays to pretty much everyone working from home.”

With that came a casual fashion and what White calls “hybrid dress”: “people wear clothes to train, have meetings and then go play tennis”. Moreover, the sport itself has, she said, “seen a real boom since Covid”.

Tennis didn’t suddenly become fashionable. From American tennis player Stan Smith, who won the men’s singles at Wimbledon in 1972 and gave his name to the trainer Adidas who defined sneaker culture in the 2010s, to René Lacoste who won twice Wimbledon in the 1920s but went on to become perhaps an even bigger name in the fashion world thanks to its crocodile logo polo shirts, tennis and fashion have a long history.

Tennis players through the ages have shown prowess both in terms of mastering base strokes and hems, from Arthur Ashe’s short shorts and white high socks to Italian player Lea Pericoli’s mini dresses. Plus, as fashion historian Tony Glenville points out, tennis has a “designer pedigree,” with fans of Ralph Lauren and André Courrèges playing the game, and the United States. Vogue editor and industry figurehead Anna Wintour is rarely missed by Central Court crowds.



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