Group in red shorts protest against Wimbledon dress code over period concerns
A group of campaigners staged a protest at Wimbledon over the dress code due to concerns over periods for female players.
Recreational tennis player Gabriella Holmes, 26, and footballer Holly Gordon, 28, started the campaign, Address The Dress Code, to highlight the anxiety that females face competing in traditional whites.
The pair arrived at Wimbledon’s gate five with two other women, wearing white skirts with red undershorts, ahead of the ladies’ singles final on Saturday afternoon.
The outfits are inspired by the former French player who wore red shorts under her skirt at the 2007 championship, sparking widespread media attention, the group said.
They were also handing out fliers with a photoshopped version of the famous “Tennis Girl” photo, that shows a woman lifting her skirt to reveal blood-stained shorts rather than a bare bottom.
They also held up banners with messages like: “Address the dress code” and “You can do it Ian Hewitt”, referring to the chairman of the All England Club.
The organisers said they want Wimbledon to “amend” the traditional dress code so that women can decide if they want to wear colours that make them more comfortable.
Ms Holmes said: "We’ve basically come down today because we want Wimbledon to address the white dress code that doesn’t take into consideration female athletes on their periods.
"We want to make it really known to Wimbledon that the rules they are making at the top, they’re all already filtering down to grassroots levels.
"We are already seeing tons of young girls who drop out of sports when they start their period or by the time they’ve hit puberty they’ve stopped sports altogether.
"We think it’s the time to address those barriers for young girls getting into the sport and it starts at the top, so that’s Wimbledon."
Ms Gordon added: “The conversation around women’s sport, in general, is becoming bigger so this conversation shouldn’t really come as a surprise."
She said that they are hoping the Wimbledon board listens and sits down to think about potentially making amendments to the dress code.
"We’re not hoping to drastically change the all-white dress code we just want to kind of amend it and keep in mind the practicality for women instead of keeping up traditions essentially for tradition’s sake.
"We ultimately want it to be the women’s choice about what would actually alleviate any stress or shame when it comes to competing professionally in front of the world."
Ms Holmes added that they have suggested women could choose to wear Wimbledon’s colours of purple and green as an option for undershorts.
"We want women to be able to focus on the tennis and on the sport and not have to worry about other factors when competing at this level,” she said.
The demonstration also comes after British doubles star Alicia Barnett recently opened up about the stress of having to compete in white on her period.“I do think some traditions could be changed,” Barnett told the PA news agency at Wimbledon last week.
"I, for one, am a massive advocate for women’s rights and I think having this discussion is just amazing.”
Meanwhile, The Football Association has said it will work in consultation with kit manufacturer Nike regarding the colour of England’s shorts due to players’ concerns about wearing white during their periods.
England pair Beth Mead and Georgia Stanway raised the issue after Wednesday night’s opening Euro 2022 win against Austria.
Arsenal forward Mead, who scored England’s winner against Group A rivals Austria at Old Trafford, said white is “not practical when it’s the time of the month”.
An FA spokesperson said: “We recognise the importance and want our players to feel our full support on this matter. Any feedback made by them will be taken into consideration for future designs.
“We will continue to work in close consultation with our partners Nike, while still following guidance from tournament organisers where possible in terms of colour choices.”
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