Why Do Female Tennis Players Wear Skirts

Tennis skirts have long been an iconic part of women’s tennis attire. Female players have worn skirts for decades to uphold tradition, appeal to audiences, and reinforce proper femininity. Today, however, skirts remain, most of all, a matter of personal expression and comfort.

Though skirts originated to distinguish women’s tennis as a respectable sport for ladies, they have evolved immensely and vary widely. Comfort has trumped convention as skirts have become shorter, more innovative, and adapted to every active lifestyle. Style, too, holds sway as players craft looks that make them feel powerful yet poised.

There is no single reason female tennis players continue wearing skirts, though history, fashion, and personal values all play a role. Some see skirts as integral to preserving a sport’s legacy and heritage, while others find little reason to wear them beyond personal preference. Empowerment comes before expectation, as players define propriety and femininity for themselves, on and off the court.

Why do female tennis players wear skirts?

Here are some simple reasons why female tennis players typically wear skirts:


Tennis skirts have been worn by female players for a long time. Wearing skirts is seen as upholding an important tradition in women’s tennis.


Many players like how skirts look and think they make fashionable outfits for tennis. Skirts show their sporty and feminine side.

Sex appeal

Tennis skirts are often intentionally short to be revealing and highlight the female figure. This is seen as appealing and helps attract attention, spectators, sponsors, and media coverage. The sport has commercialized sex appeal as a way to promote itself.


Skirt designs provide mobility and breathability for playing tennis comfortably. Features like stretch material, pockets, and pleats make skirts practical and prevent chafing.


Skirts originally helped differentiate women’s tennis from men’s by requiring distinctly feminine attire. Though not required today, skirts still represent this historical distinction.


Skirts were once expected as a properly modest option for athletic women. Though skirts today vary widely, some players continue to prefer them as suitably coy or demure attire for their values or religion.


Certain skirt styles empower other players to craft an image of strength, power, or sexuality that they find empowering. Skirts enable them to feel confident and badass, not just demure.

Personal expression

A player’s choice of skirt, or lack thereof, allows them to express themselves personally in a way that suits their unique style, values, or identity as an individual. Comfort comes before fashion, tradition, or any expectation.


Attire, including skirts, has been used at times to appeal to potential sponsors or spectators interested in the sport’s glamour or sexuality. Though player empowerment is now prioritized, the influence of commercial interests on women’s tennis fashion remains.

Some players today wear no skirt, instead of shorts, leggings, or even less. There are no longer rules dictating what is “appropriate” attire, allowing players to wear as much or as little as makes them feel most comfortable and able to play their game freely.

Female tennis player wear skirt

How long are tennis skirts supposed to be?

Tennis skirts typically range in length from 11 to 15 inches (28-38 cm) from the waistband to the bottom hem.

A length of around 13 inches (33 cm) is often recommended as a good default or moderately short option that provides freedom of movement while still being somewhat modest.

Players should ultimately choose the most comfortable length, balancing modesty, movement, and personal style.

Some skirts come with built-in shorts or panties for added coverage and to prevent accidental exposure, which can be a good option for some.

The length is measured from the waistband’s top down to the skirt’s bottom on the center backside.

These guidelines help provide practical recommendations while still allowing for preference and variation. Not all players will choose exactly 13 inches, but that serves as a general reference point.

Historical or cultural conventions also come into play for some, impacting what is viewed as appropriate length. But comfort and personal expression are prioritized by many players today.

Fashion norms and commercial interests have led skirt lengths to trend shorter over time, but there are limits before length becomes impractical or inappropriate for tennis.

Dress code policies at tournaments may set basic parameters, but enforcement of strict skirt length rules is limited, allowing for a range in practice.

What do female tennis players wear under their skirts?

Tennis skirts are specially designed for the sport and commonly have built-in compression shorts that provide a full range of movement without exposure. These provide comfort and a modest appearance.

Undergarment options for female tennis players

Compression shorts under skirts technically serve as trunks to prevent exposure during play. But they allow complete freedom of movement.

Players can wear whatever undershorts/undergarments make them comfortable under their skirts, including spandex shorts with pockets for carrying balls. These offer comfort, efficiency, and coverage.

Some skirts/shorts have built-in tights/leggings for extra coverage, comfort, and trapping balls. These keep players confident during play.

All apparel, including undershorts, must be primarily white at major events like Wimbledon. Leggings are allowed in cold weather.

Players historically held two balls in their hands while serving, but now most do not. Ball shorts provide coverage and pockets for carrying balls.

Undershot designs have improved to be low-profile under skirts while offering coverage, comfort, and breathability. Seamless, lace, and mesh fabrics help prevent visible panty lines.

Cultural or social pressures still impact what is viewed as appropriately modest attire, influencing skirt lengths and coverage. But player comfort and expression also play a strong role today.

Cultural and commercial influences on tennis attire for women

Commercial interests in sex appeal have led to shorter skirt lengths for some players or tournaments, but there are limits before impracticality or unsuitability.

Dress code policies provide some guidelines but enforcement of strict rules around skirt length and undershorts is typically limited, allowing for range in practice. Player preference dominates.

Why do tennis skirts have upside down pockets?

Tennis skirts incorporate upside-down pockets designed to securely hold tennis balls without falling out during play. These pockets make it easy to store balls on the body. Other options for holding balls include pockets sewn into skirts, ball holders, spandex, and deep pockets in tennis shorts. Players can choose whichever methods they prefer and find most convenient/usable.

The upside-down pocket design in tennis skirts

While upside-down pockets are common, not all tennis skirts feature them. Some skirts have pockets on both sides that are not inverted. Pocket styles vary, and options suit different player preferences.

Some players find upside-down pockets useless, too tight to use quickly with one hand, or otherwise inconvenient. They see them as impractical or unnecessary, even if they remain a popular design feature. Player opinion impacts brands and innovations.

Players’ preferences for ball storage in tennis skirts

Multiple methods of ball storage under tennis skirts have developed to suit different playing styles, ball preferences, and views on pocket utility. So, there is no single right answer, and many options coexist.

While pockets serve various purposes, such as convenience, comfort, and efficiency, some players view upside-down pockets as more of a hindrance than a help. They find these pockets’ tight and awkward design to be unnecessary and impractical. Practicality reigns supreme for players.

Cultural norms of modesty can affect the design and visibility of pockets, which can impact how many balls may be seen based on pocket depth. Some value discretion and decorum.

Dress code policies may set basic rules around pocket/ball storage features, but playability and personal comfort ultimately dominate for players. Strict enforcement of standards around pockets is rare.

A female playing tennis

Are tennis skirts just for tennis?

Tennis skirts have become popular for those not playing tennis, worn for workouts, exercise classes (Pilates, yoga, cardio), and general fashion style. They offer a sporty yet fashionable look that many find appealing and versatile.

Features that benefit tennis, such as breathability, movement, stretch, and compression, make skirts useful and suitable for other activities and lifestyles. They are designed for physical exertion and comfort on the move.

Tennis skirts as versatile athletic wear

Styles like pleated skirts and elastic waistbands further enhance movement, flexibility, and range of motion. Skirts accommodate an active lifestyle beyond just tennis.

While originally created for tennis, skirts have clearly transcended the sport and now represent ideals of sportiness, fitness, and versatility in fashion/culture more broadly. They have found new relevance and purpose outside tennis.

There is no requirement or rule compelling players to wear skirts. Comfort and personal preference primarily motivate clothing choices, not obligations. Players can wear “appropriate tennis attire” without necessarily including a skirt.

Personal preference vs. obligation in tennis attire

Skirts must adhere to standards of comfort, flexibility, and decency for the activity and personal style, not strict tennis tradition or dress code. Practical considerations overrule cultural conventions or expectations.

A sporty-meets-feminine aesthetic continues to inspire skirts, but they are seen as versatile performance pieces, not just decorative tennis uniforms. They suit an energetic female identity beyond just tennis players.

Tennis skirts in the fashion and fitness industry

Partnerships with activewear brands, sponsorships, and general fashion/fitness industry influence have elevated the profile of tennis skirts outside courts. They transcend their origins and are recognized as sports-chic style staples.

In summary, while created for tennis, tennis skirts have undoubtedly resonated beyond the sport, becoming popular for workouts, exercise, fashion, and an active lifestyle Features that benefit tennis also allow them to suit various athletic and physically active days, and they represent an aesthetic that many women find versatile and appealing across contexts. Tennis skirts are no longer just for tennis players but active, stylish women everywhere.

What is the history of tennis skirts?

Tennis skirts originated in the late 19th century, around the same time as the modern rules of tennis were established. They were designed to meet the new standards of femininity, modesty, and propriety emerging for women at the time. Skirts were seen as an appropriately modest option for athletic activity and competition.

Skirt length gradually shortened over the early-mid 20th century, influenced by evolving fashion norms, commercial interests in sex appeal, and women gaining more freedom and independence. But skirts still reached at or below the knee for most of this time period due to cultural expectations of decency.

Evolution of tennis skirts over time

In the 1960s-70s, skirts shortened further as miniskirts became popular and norms shifted to be more permissive of exposed legs. Tennis followed suit, with skirts reaching mid-thigh, though the equipment for “ladies” events was still required.

In the 1980s, many tennis tournaments and events dropped skirt requirements altogether, allowing women to wear shorts if they chose. However, some players preferred skirts and continued wearing them. Skirt designs also incorporated more features like mesh panels, lace trim, and stretch fabrics to enhance comfort and movement.

Factors influencing the design of tennis skirts

Today, while not compulsory, tennis skirts remain popular as a historical tradition and for the sporty style they represent. However, many modern skirts are even shorter, reaching nearly the hip or incorporating microskirts, miniskirts, and hot pants styles. Comfort, free movement, and flirtatious appeal inspire short hemlines for some.

Brands continue designing innovative tennis skirts with features like pockets, deep side splits, mesh panels, and seamless fit for comfort, breathability, and style. Partnerships with activewear companies have also led to more versatile skirts suitable for workouts beyond tennis.

Skirts range from shorts to miniskirts to remain on-trend and suit different visions of sportiness, modesty, and personal expression. They represent the balance of playfulness and discipline that tennis cultivates.

Cultural expectations of decorum, religion, player preference, and commercial interests have all shaped the evolving design, length, and purpose of tennis skirts over their history. The history of skirts reflects the complex interplay of these influences on women’s sportswear and style.

Female tennis player


Tennis skirts remain iconic, though no longer compulsory. A matter of personal choice, they span a range and reveal as diverse as the players and purposes behind them. History inspires but custom now guides, as players select skirts based on empowerment, not expectation. Whether short, long, old-fashioned, or not, skirts signify women’s tennis’s progressive liberty. A sport once confined to the convention now strides ever forward on its own terms.


Do all tennis skirts have shorts underneath?

Most modern tennis skirts have built-in compression shorts, which provide comfort and unrestricted freedom of movement for the player. However, not all tennis skirts have shorts underneath. Some tennis skirts have triangular hip cutouts that reveal matching shorts beneath. Other tennis skirts have a high waist and wide waistband but no built-in shorts.

Why are so many female tennis players wearing the same outfit?

Many female tennis players wear the same outfit because they are sponsored by the same clothing brands.

Can you wear leggings under tennis skirt?

Yes, female tennis players can wear leggings under their tennis skirts. Leggings are not considered appropriate attire for tennis, but they may be allowed when worn beneath a skirt, dress, or pair of shorts.

Is there a dress code for female tennis players?

Yes, there is a dress code for female tennis players. The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) has a set of rules that are consolidated in an annual rulebook. In professional female tennis, players must dress in clothes that completely cover their bodies from the shoulders to the knees.

Why do female tennis players tuck their skirts into their shorts?

One reason is that female tennis players tuck their skirts into their shorts, giving them more freedom of movement on the court. Another reason is that some tennis skirts do not have pouches, unlike men’s shorts, so tucking the skirt into the shorts helps keep the ball in place and prevents it from rolling away.

Jannah S. Perera
Jannah S. Perera

Hi, I'm Jannah, a social activist who loves making new friends and making society a better place. In my leisure time, I love to spend time with my friends. Additionally, I am doing activities on social media and the internet.

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