At the French Open there was sooo much chatter about those, er, um, let’s say different, zebra outfits the players were wearing. Like the year before when Stan Wawrinka’s plaid shorts by Yonex were made fun of, adidas at Roland Garros were raking in the attention.
Now, across the English Channel there is more consternation about the dresses many of the women under contract to Nike are wearing. And you guessed it Nike are revelling in the attention. Job done!
Some of the women players have refused to wear the outfit. One of those is the 2013 Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki. Some have sort of blamed the dress on a loss. Now that is drawing a long bow. What’s that line about a workman blaming his tools?
The dress is revealing they say. I say it looks like two very large handkerchiefs or table cloths that have been stitched together.
Incredibly the dress passed the Wimbledon clothing committee (or whatever it is called but they do have a panel to approve outfits) criteria, but maybe they were just looking at the colour aspect. Wimbledon’s rule is all white, not off white but white.
Players say the dress, which retails for £75, reveals too much and flys up during play. They suggest it is revealing the midriff. Err, anyone see Serena Williams’ outfit at the Australian Open? By the way, Serena is not wearing the dress, she had designs created just for her.
Judy Murray called on Nike to rethink the design.
“The important thing for any clothing manufacturer who is sponsoring top players is to make sure that the clothing is functional for the job in hand, so I'm sure that Nike will be taking steps to address it,” Judy Murray told the Daily Telegraph. “Anything that is not functional proves distracting to the players and that's not in anybody's interests.
“I know from experience of watching the boys, you have to get the clothing right, the footwear right because these are partly the tools of your trade so it has to be functional for what it is that you need to do.”
The dress has been described as looking like a skimpy nightie.
Some players have taken to varying how the dress is worn; some have tucked the hems into their knickers, others have worn leggings under it.
Nike’s high profile client Eugenie Bouchard says the dress is a winner for her. “For me, I love it,” Bouchard told TSN. “It’s nice and short so you can move around and be free with your movements. It’s funny that people paid a lot of attention to it, but I really think it’s really nice.”
Nike said the Premier Slam (it’s got a name) dress, “represents a departure from the skirt-top combinations worn in previous Grand Slams”. Really? One has seen way more dresses being worn the last couple of years.
A Nike statement said: “Despite the traditional aesthetic, the dress features modern design elements such as power pleats and racerback construction, which work in tandem to enable the athlete’s movement.”
Ahh, but nothing about the dress getting in a player’s way as she serves or is running or striking a groundstroke.
As mentioned at the start, Nike has to be relishing the attention it is receiving. Free advertising.