With the French Open finished and Wimbledon now just a few weeks away, the big news is that the tourney’s ballboys and ballgirls — who’ve previously worn green with unfortunate purple trim — will be getting a makeover when the tournament starts later this month. The full story came in a recent article in the Wall Street Journal, whose content isn’t available online, so here are the pertinent bits:
For the past 30 years, the rule for on-court officials, including umpires, ballboys, and ballgirls, has been to wear green, to blend in with the finely trimmed grass courts of the All England Lawn Tennis Club. … [But this year they'll] sport Polo Ralph Lauren shorts, skirts, pants, and blazers in navy blue, with Wimbledon’s logo on the shirt sleeve and Polo’s pony on a breast pocket or shirt front. …
Wimbledon’s fashion awakening has been years in the making. Tournament organizers say they realized some time ago that the green-polyester blazers and beige pants for on-court officials were seriously behind the times [and let's not forget the purple ties]. The outfits were manufactured by Britain’s Wood Harris Ltd., a maker of uniforms for security guards and catering companies. …
Polo says its inspiration was Wimbledon attire from the 1930s and 1940s, when players wore white pants and jackets on court. Polo’s original idea was to dress linesmen [who in the past have also worn green] in white shirts. But Wimbledon officials vetoed it, fearing white shirts on a sunny day would distract players. Instead, linesmen will wear a blue-and-white pinstripe dress shirt with a white collar.
The best quote comes from Wimbledon marketing director Rob McCowen, who insisted that the deal had nothing to do with money and then said (apparently with a straight face) that his favorite thing about Polo is, “They don’t have big brand logos all over their shirts.”
Uh, right. McCowen might want to look at those drawings one more time. If he looks closely, in fact, he’ll see that Polo has actually annexed a bit of sartorial territory from him: The ballboys’ and ballgirls’ wristbands, which used to have the Wimbledon logo, are now slated to carry the Polo mark.
One thing Uni Watch hasn’t been able to confirm: net judge attire, either for this year or in the past. This photo suggests that net judges may have worn the same green jackets as everyone else, or maybe it was a darker jacket — tough to say for sure, considering how much colors can vary on the web. Anyone know more about this?
Meanwhile, moving from the court to the courtroom, it turns out that Adidas-sponsored players will be allowed to wear the company’s three-stripe design at Wimbledon, and it’s a fair bet that Nike and other companies will answer by increasing the size of the logo patches on their own sponsored players.