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STYLE AND CULTURE

TENNIS STYLE LEGACY

By Sam Higgins, 15 July 2017

Wimbledon fever has hit and the return of the world's oldest tennis tournament reminds us of the sport's many long-standing traditions. In London, it's all about strawberries and cream, the infamous Henman Hill (or Murray Mount) and a strictly all-white player dress code. The latter is just one example of tennis' sartorial legacy, which has influenced our wardrobes more than you may think – here's how.

tennis style legacy wimbledon asos style advice

Picture: Rex

In the late 19th century, you'd have seen a vastly different on-court spectacle when watching a game of 'lawn tennis' – women wore dresses and hats while men would wear bow-ties, belts and smart shoes while hitting melton-cloth-laden balls with a wooden racquet. 
 
It wasn’t until the cusp of the 30s, when French tennis star René Lacoste introduced his own T-shirt featuring a crocodile logo (his nickname), that fashion began to play a bigger part in the game. Much like the merch trend today, this initiated a slew of famed players to follow suit with signature clothing. Most notably, Fred Perry – one of England’s most successful players ever – launched his eponymous line of polo shirts at Wimbledon in 1952.
tennis style legacy wimbledon asos style advice

Picture: Getty

Seeing this rise, sports brands began focusing their attention on on-court kit – most notably, adidas. Dipping their toe into sportswear, the German giants produced a pair of tennis trainers that was originally the signature shoe of Robert Haillet, a relatively unknown French player. But in 1971, adidas took things in a different direction, renaming the silhouette after the recent US Open winner, Stan Smith and in turn, elevated the shoe to a huge American audience. It's now one of the best-selling shoes of all time, with over 40 million pairs sold worldwide.
tennis style legacy wimbledon asos style advice

Picture: Scope Features

This year, the Björn Borg/John McEnroe rivalry hits Hollywood, bringing the late 70s/early 80s influence on tennis threads to the fore. Take McEnroe’s headband, for instance – taming his flamboyant curls – his short shorts and his polo tee with striped arm detailing. Very SS17, don’t you think? 
tennis style legacy wimbledon asos style advice

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In a similar vein to football and motocross, tennis has infiltrated the streetwear set in recent years, with designers adding everything from sleeve detailing to the all-white colour palette to their latest lines. For example, London hype label Palace recently revived an polo shirt design from the adidas archives that looks fresh off the court. Meanwhile, on the opposite end of the fashion spectrum, Thom Browne and Ralph Lauren were among several designers to take that influence to the next level, creating ace capsule collections that devote design and functionality to tennis' clean-cut preppiness.

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