The best dressed tennis players of all time

jimmy connors left shakes hands with arthur ashe after losing the final in four sets 6 1 6 1 5 7 6 4 July 6, 1975 photo staffmirrorpixgetty images

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From fashion week runways to SW9 wardrobes, the allure of tennis fashion continues. There’s only grace, a kind of effortless elegance that can offset the sad fact that you’ve hit yet another ball into a nearby graveyard. What says ‘I did laundry and have time for extracurricular sports’ better than a fresh set of spotless white tennis clothes? Even if you’re not dressing for Wimbledon, the combination of a Palmes polo shirt and Casablanca shorts feels off-duty athletic yet acceptable pub-stop attire. Overall, there is a classy, ​​elegant attitude that underlines tennis and its uniform – which is much more approachable than the brash approach of football and the irritating scruffiness of rugby.

But newcomers to tennis are questioning the originality and correct view of the sport, as highlighted in the new Netflix Breakpoint. The documentary series follows some of the racket’s new stars as they strive to become household names like the legends of yesteryear. The behind-the-scenes look highlights the players’ mental struggles and the sport’s impact on their personal relationships – making it an easy entry point for those who consider Stan Smith a mysterious face in the language of tennis.

To celebrate a show that gives the fashion-conscious some contextual knowledge for any Grand Slam discussion, we’ve highlighted some of the best-dressed players in the history of the sport.

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In the 70s, Borg was the first man to break away from the traditional tennis dress code. With long blond locks, a striped tracksuit and a constant rotation of disco-inspired cuts, the Scandinavian was a hit on and off the court, and decades later he was the inspiration behind Richie Tenenbaum in Wes Anderson’s cult classic, The Royal Tenenbaums. He was most recognizable for his support of Fila, which saw him wearing T-shirts with the initials ‘BJ’ and his famous Fila Settanta Mk1 polo shirt. But his status as a fashion forward was cemented when he launched his own line in 1984.

You don’t often see social activism and sports overlap, but that was the case with Arthur Ashe. Not only was he the first and only black man to win Wimbledon in 1975, but the tennis player has dedicated his post-retirement life to civil and human rights, using his platform to help fight apartheid in South Africa and create inner-city tennis and employment programs younger generations. On top of that, he had impeccable style. Ashe proved why the traditional tennis look was and always will be cool, sticking to a uniform of neutral polo shirts and shorts, which she accessorized with square-framed glasses and a simple gold chain. Imitating his look couldn’t be easier; the creative minds behind Rowing Blazer’s launched the brand in his honor last summer.

Known for his temper (according to Kyrgios) as well as his superb on-court volley, McEnroe is an unforgettable character with a catchphrase – many remember him shouting “You’re not serious are you?!” to the Wimbledon empire in 1981. As Borg’s regular rival, his looks were in the same class: a red sweatshirt would often cover his curly barnet, completing a tracksuit and shorts combo. A clear cut difference between the two players? McEnroe would be spotted with a pair of athletic socks pulled up high.

It’s unusual to hear of an athlete who hates the sport he plays with all his heart, but Andre Agassi was one of them. Pushed onto the court by an overbearing father, the player – who proved you don’t have to love something to be good at it – rebelled with his choice of clothing in the Eighties and Nineties, even refusing to play at Wimbledon for several years because of its traditional all-white dress code . This resulted in a look built around acid-washed shorts, an unforgettable mullet, block-print polo shirts and colorful sunglasses that brought an anti-establishment flair to the tennis scene. It was so striking that Nike brought the design back in 2020, working with Agassi to create a 21st century version of his famous Challenge Court collection.

As well as incredible style accolades, eighties tennis star Yannick Noah – aka Tennis Rastelli – is equally loved for his hair evolution, which went from a short afro to dreadlocks that swayed back and forth as he played. Still the only French player to win the French Open, Noah has the status of a national hero – even more so when he wore a David Bowie T-shirt during practice at Wimbolden, rebelling in true French fashion against the championship’s traditional garb. Le Coq Sportif can also thank him for bringing the brand into the mainstream, later renaming its Crescendo wooden racquet the Noah Pro in his honor. And on top of that, after retiring from tennis, Noah devoted himself to music.

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