Court Couture

Evolution of Tennis Fashion: Photos of Andre Agassi, Serena Williams, and More

With the U.S. Open well underway, the Daily Beast looks at tennis style through the years.

Getty Images (4) ; Landov (2)

Getty Images (4) ; Landov (2)

Samantha Stosur throttled Serena Williams at the U.S. Open final Sunday—and earlier this year scandalized Wimbledon with red underwear. The Daily Beast looks at a century of tennis style, from floor-sweeping dresses to skin-tight catsuits.

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British tennis player Virginia Wade prepares for a volley in turn-of-the-century tennis style for women: heeled booties, brimmed hats, and cumbersome floor-sweeping dresses.

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Maurice McLoughlin, otherwise known as the “California Comet,” hits the court in slacks and a button-down. A member of the U.S. Davis Cup team, McLoughlin was named No. 2 in the country in 1911.

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French tennis star Suzanne Lenglen was a notorious diva on the court, turning heads with her courtside tantrums and risqué outfits designed by Jean-Patou, who invented the pleated tennis skirt. Aptly nicknamed La Divine, or “Queen of the Court,” Lenglen won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open six times.

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The Jazz Age ushered in flapper-inspired sportswear, like the bandeau headpiece pictured here on Lili de Alvarez. She was the first female athlete to wear a “skort,” which was custom-made by designer Elsa Schiaparelli and would ultimately lead to the evolution of shorts for women.

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Helen Wills Moody and Dorothy Round take Wimbledon in near-matching outfits, though Round’s sporty visor stands out.

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Men and women warm up in preppy piped blazers.

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Cinched waists, puffy short sleeves, and classic lace-up sneakers were ahead of their time in the ‘40s, as modeled here by actress Joan Perry.

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With his thick beard and eccentric personality, Torben Ulrich was somewhat of an anomaly in the sport. After winning a coin toss for service at Wimbledon one year, Ulrich allegedly told his partner, “I like watching your service in motion, it’s so elegant, why don’t you serve first Tony?” When he wasn’t competing on Denmark’s Davis Cup team, he dabbled in filmmaking and painting. He was also an acclaimed musician (and the father of Metallica drummer Lars Ulrich.)

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The ‘60s said goodbye to demure knee-length skirts and welcomed the mini, pictured here on Australian tennis star Evonne Goolagong.

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Yannick Noah brings Saturday Night Fever flair to the court at a Roland Garros match.

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Martina Navratilova sports more disco-era trends: bold prints and oversized collars.

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Bjorn Borg wears short-shorts (and color coordinates his socks with his shirt) at the U.S. Open in 1978. The stylish Swede’s look was championed in the ‘80s, and later by Luke Wilson in The Royal Tenenbaums.

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Andre Agassi’s neon ensembles, signature mullet, and “Image is Everything” ad campaign defined a decade of tennis style.

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Pete Sampras was as much an icon of the ‘90s as Agassi, though the rivals clashed on the court. While Agassi was decked out in bold colors and flashy accessories, Sampras preferred cool whites and breathable fabrics. 

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Venus and Serena Williams took tennis fashion to new extremes with garish outfits like Venus’s lacy black corset dresses and Serena’s infamous Puma catsuit.

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Serbian superstar Novak Djokovic took the world No. 1 title from Rafael Nadal after beating him in the men’s finals at Wimbledon this year. But when it comes to style, Djokovic pales in comparison to Rafa, whose game-day ensembles are as loud as his notorious grunt.

Elise Amendola


Samantha Stosur throttled Serena Williams in straight sets to win the 2011 U.S. Open. Stosur is sponsored by big names like Lacoste and Oakley, so she’s often seen wearing the clothing and accessories of those brands. Earlier this year, the tennis star turned heads when she “scandalous” wore red underpants under her dress at Wimbledon.