x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

Mattek-Sands wardrobe promises a distraction

It isn't the Wimbledon fortnight if someone isn't causing a stir with rumours of a wild or exotic new outfit.

It isn't the Wimbledon fortnight if someone isn't causing a stir with rumours of a wild or exotic new outfit.

Last year, Venus Williams wore a Tina Turner-inspired white frock that fell far short of the knee and made scant progress up her chest, seemingly the fashion descendant of Madonna's "underwear as outer wear" look.

Four years ago, Tatiana Golovin of France made SW19 news when she wore tiny shorts that were red, in contravention of the All England Club's rules for "mostly white" outfits.

In 1985, Anne White of Britain memorably wore an all-white, ankles-to-shoulders cat suit that her beaten opponent, Pam Shriver, called "distracting". The cat suit slunk into history.

It was the club that made the "distracting" ruling on its own in 1958, when Karol Fageros was told to leave the court after appearing with gold lame panties beneath her white skirt.

This year, tennis fans are cringing (or anticipating) what the 30th-seeded American Bethany Mattek-Sands promised would be a "Lady Gaga-inspired" outfit when she takes the court today for a first-round match.

It has been designed by Alex Noble, the man behind the over-the-top Gaga look. "I have something of his that I'm going to wear on to the court, but I can't play in it," Mattek-Sands said. "It's my big surprise for Wimbledon."

She said the attention will be fun. "When I'm relaxed and having fun, I play my best tennis." And these silly exhibitions make Wimbledon a bit more fun, too.