Serena displays her eye-catching undergarment (Reuters)
Wimbledon is one of my favourite summer sporting events and this year we get to see it twice (thanks to the fact that the Olympics tennis matches will be played on the famous courts at SW19).
While the debate about whether male and female tennis players deserve equal prize money rumbles on, the women definitely deserve star billing for their outfits.
Without doubt the fashion star of the women’s game is Serena Williams. Her wacky style choices are legendary – such as the hair beads that both she and her sister Venus wore when they first burst on to the scene many years ago and the infamous white trenchcoat which she wore for pre-match warm-up at Wimbledon in 2008.
This year her outfits have racked up as many column inches as her matches. Serena, ever a maverick, has subverted the traditional all-white dress code of Wimbledon with the addition of magenta sweatbands and matching shorts (pants?!) under her regulation white dress.
I’m not suggesting everyone go out flashing their brightly coloured undergarments, but on a tennis court, where everything tends to be as short and tight as possible in order to best show off a toned body, it is a masterstroke.
Every time she leaps, jumps or serves we get a flash of the vibrant magenta shorts, and our focus is all on Serena. The bright magenta colour is textbook Serena – it is such a ‘look at me’ shade and she is such a prominent, and at times controversial, player.
The outfit sends a message that she is not shy about her talent or about displaying the honed body and impressive muscles that make her the fierce competitor she is.
Williams isn’t the only female tennis player to think about her look and image as much as her game. Danish player Caroline Wozniacki is impeccably dressed by Stella McCartney for Adidas for her on-court appearances but has been struggling to convert looking good into playing well.
Men’s tennis isn’t immune to fashion moments either. Swiss tennis great Roger Federer opts for preppy staples such as cream cardigans, waistcoats and blazers for his appearances on Centre Court. When playing, he removes these in favour of pristine white polo-shirts and shorts. His nemesis Rafael Nadal, by contrast, chooses minimal sleeveless t-shirts and three-quarter length shorts.
With the Olympics around the corner, the stakes are about to be raised. Team GB will be kitted out in Adidas by Stella McCartney (despite controversy when the kit was first unveiled, I’m a fan of her modern creations) and the American team’s outfits have been designed by Ralph Lauren.
But it really doesn’t matter to me who wins the Wimbledon crown and the Olympic gold medal, as I’ll be watching and judging a more important contest: that of best dressed.