Why do tennis players wear the same outfit?

Tennis is an individual sport in which lots of players all dress the same. And then keep wearing those identical outfits day after day, match after match, throughout a tournament. At the Grand Slams, as well as on the men's and women's tours, it's not unusual to have opponents walk on court wearing the exact same outfits, down to matching socks and even accessories such as headbands.

Why do so many players dress the same? 

What's going on? Do professional players all just have the same dress sense? Not quite. The reason so many leading players are dressing the same is because they have endorsement contacts with the same clothing companies, and brands want to dress all their athletes in outfits from their new collections.

That will ensure the clothes get plenty of exposure, whether on television, online or in newspapers, and are seen by the spectators who are onsite. While players will often get a new outfit at their next tournament, so will everyone else sponsored by the same brand.

Why does a player wear the same outfit throughout a tournament? 

More often than not, a player will wear the same outfit from their first match until their last. If they reach the final of a Grand Slam, that means seven promotional opportunities for the new styles from their clothing supplier.

If a player is repeatedly seen in the same outfit that will help to showcase the clothes to amateur players, who might want to get the same look as the elite athletes. Marin Cilic, a former US Open champion who is sponsored by HEAD, will often wear the same outfit throughout a tournament, which helps to showcase our new designs.

Why does everyone wear white at Wimbledon? 

Wimbledon has the strictest dress code of any tournament with players having to wear almost all white – almost, as they are permitted small amounts of color, such as a trim around the neckline which can't be wider than one centimetre. This tradition dates back to the nineteenth century when it wasn't considered 'proper' for players to be sweating, and white didn't show perspiration as much as other colors.

The dress code also applies to any 'undergarments' which might be visible during play, to the soles and laces on shoes, and to the tracksuits players might be wearing as they walk on.

Even when players are practising on the Championships courts, they have to wear white, though the dress code is more relaxed at the Aorangi Park practice facility, where you might see athletes wearing more colorful clothes on the grass. However, even though the rules are strict, manufacturers such as HEAD still find ways of giving their clothes their own style and identity.

How many outfits does a professional get at a tournament? 

Several. Players need enough sets of an outfit so they sure to have clean clothes for each match. A player will often go on court with a couple of changes of clothes in their bag. On hot days, or when they are deep into a match and sweating heavily, putting on a fresh shirt helps a player to feel more comfortable.

Can you play tennis without a shirt?

In a word, no. Male and female professionals wouldn't be allowed to walk shirtless on to court. The same is also true at amateur level - if you're playing a match at a club or a tournament, you will almost certainly be required to put a shirt on.

Is there a dress code for tennis players? 

The rulebook for the women's WTA Tour says "a player must present herself in a professional manner and wear appropriate tennis attire".

That rule applies in practice and warm-ups as well as in matches, and "a player may be asked to change if the supervisor or referee deems it necessary - failure to do so may result in default from a tournament and/or a fine". The rulebook was updated in 2019 to make it clear that players could wear leggings or mid-thigh-length compression shorts with or without a skirt, shorts or dress.

In both the men’s and women’s game, players are expected to dress “in a professional manner” and if they don’t, they risk being defaulted. The men's ATP Tour says "every player shall dress and present himself for play in a professional manner". The rulebook goes on to say: "Clean and customarily acceptable tennis attire as approved by ATP shall be worn.

A player who violates this section may be ordered by the chair umpire or supervisor to change his attire or equipment immediately. Failure of a player to comply with such order may result in an immediate default."