Can Female Tennis Players Wear Shorts?

When you watch professional tennis on TV, you will notice something. Virtually all the male tennis players wear shorts when playing.

On the other side, pretty much all the women wear skirts or tennis dresses.

It has long been a tradition in tennis that women wear dresses or skirts. Historically the skirts were much longer.

But it is the 21st century now. Is it a requirement for women to wear skirts when playing? Can female tennis players wear shorts?

The tennis governing bodies have no rules stipulating what women can or can’t wear. Individual clubs may set their own policies. Most clubs will only regulate the shoes that can be worn while playing.

Most clubs are not bothered about what clothing their players wear as long as the shoes don’t damage the courts.

Many clubs in Northern Europe and country clubs in the US will ban people playing topless.

In this article I will be discussing:

  • If there are any dress codes for women in tennis
  • If skirts are compulsory for female players at Wimbledon
  • Whether skirts are more comfortable than shorts

If you’d like to learn more about the rules involving shorts for women in tennis, keep reading!

Are There Any Dress Code Rules For Females In Tennis?

Jang Su-jeong of South Korea returns a shot to Karolina Pliskova

As mentioned earlier, there are no dress codes for women in tennis. Or at least this is the case as far as the ITF, WTA, and ATP are concerned.

These are the three governing bodies for international tennis.

The ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) regulates the top tier of the men’s game.

The WTA (Women’s Tennis Association) does the same but for the women. The ITF (International Tennis Federation) is the international governing body for tennis.

You will rarely come across tennis clubs with a strict dress code in this day and age.

Some upper-class country clubs still enforce dress codes. I found a club that meets this description based in Montreal, Canada.

Their website states that all players must wear white when on the tennis courts.

They state that a maximum color trim of 10% is allowed on each item of clothing. It says that the shirts the men wear must have a collar.

This Canadian club makes no mention of what women should wear, though.

The rules from this club do sound a little over the top, given there is only one tournament on the professional tennis tour that mandates the wearing of white clothing.

I grew up in Britain, the home of Wimbledon and grass-court tennis. In tournaments that my players and I competed in, I never came across one that was strict on anything other than shoes.

Most respectable tennis clubs will have regulations on what type of shoes can be worn on their courts.

Many clubs with grass courts will stipulate that players must wear pimpled shoes. These shoes are designed solely for play on grass.

Most clubs that insist on players wearing pimpled shoes will not be strict on what their female members can wear.

They are only concerned about protecting the court surfaces.

Do Female Tenis Players Have To Wear Skirts At Wibledon?

female tennis player in red skirt

Virtually every woman you see playing at Wimbledon wears a skirt while on the court.

Does this mean that skirts are compulsory at Wimbledon?

Wimbledon’s clothing and equipment guidelines do not require women to wear skirts.

Much like that country club in Montreal, there are restrictions on clothing colors.

The regulations state that shorts, skirts, and tracksuit bottoms must be entirely white, with one exception.

There can be a single trim of color on the outside seam if it is no wider than 10 mm.

One rule on the clothing can be left open to interpretation. The first rule says that “competitors must be dressed in suitable tennis attire.”

There are many ways this could be understood.

It could be interpreted simply as athletes being fully clothed. In other words, not playing topless on the court.

At the same time, it could refer to someone being required to wear traditional tennis outfits.

Following the second example could mean that women are expected to wear skirts.

Even if there is perhaps an expectation that women should wear skirts, several decide not to.

These women face no repercussions whatsoever.

Former French Open champion Jelena Ostapenko is one of those who have chosen to wear shorts at Wimbledon.

As long as players follow the all-white rule, Wimbledon doesn’t seem bothered by whether it is shorts or skirts that women wear.

You will notice with women’s tennis shorts that they are a little different from the men’s.

They are shorter and don’t have external pockets. Instead, most of them come with the internal flap for holding balls, much like the skirts/skorts.

Are Skirts More Comfortable Then Shorts?

kristina pliskova returns a shot

As a man in his mid-twenties, I can’t say I have too much personal history with tennis skirts.

In my experience, women have generally split down the middle as to whether they prefer skirts or shorts.

For many, shorts are convenient as you can simply slip into them and start training right away. However, skorts take slightly longer to put on.

The players I know who prefer skirts do so because they find skirts less restricting and more breathable.

If you are going to be playing along with a tennis match that goes on for a couple of hours, you want to make sure you are wearing something comfortable.

Sometimes, if I get really sweaty, it can be annoying having the shorts brushing up against the legs.

Perhaps it is not as bad with skirts. However, as most skirts used today are skorts, women will not avoid this scenario altogether.

Skorts have the appearance of skirts while having the components of shorts underneath.

Women who wear skorts will still feel some brushing, but it will be less than standard men’s shorts.

The reason women have historically worn skirts over shorts is pretty simple.

Before the 1990s, it was scarce to see women competing in shorts. Instead, just about every woman would choose the skirt.

Having said this, American Alice Marble shocked the world in 1937. She decided to wear shorts while competing at Wimbledon.

There was so little interest in tennis shorts for women there was little point in manufacturers producing them.

Interestingly, there has never been a larger range of clothing available for women in tennis than today.

Despite this, most women still choose to compete with short skirts.

Also read: Are Tennis And Golf Skirts The Same?

Final Words

The world of tennis has changed a lot since the 1920s.

While tennis shorts have become more common, skirts in some form remain the dominant choice for women.

The most important thing is that you choose something you feel comfortable wearing.

What do you prefer? Skirts or shorts.