x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 25 July 2017

A whitewash that did not happen for White

True colours Anne White had made a name for herself by ripping up tennis's etiquette handbook long before the Williams sisters made fashion statements on court.

The lycra cat suit that White wore in the 1985 Wimbledon.
The lycra cat suit that White wore in the 1985 Wimbledon.

Long before the Williams sisters made fashion statements on court which matched the power their forehands, another American had made a name for herself by ripping up tennis's etiquette handbook. When Anne White faced the fifth seed Pam Shriver in the first round of the 1985 Wimbledon tournament she was not expected to put up much of a fight. However, this routine match suddenly generated interest after the warm-up when White removed her tracksuit to reveal an all-in-one white Lycra catsuit. The outfit caught the eye of everyone on court No 2, and seemed to have an effect on Shriver too, as White managed to win the second set.

With the match level at one set all, play was suspended for the day due to bad light. Rather than retiring for the evening to focus on producing a major upset, White had to reconsider her wardrobe after tournament officials told her to play in more "traditional tennis attire." She returned the next morning wearing a more traditional two-piece outfit and was promptly beaten by Shriver in the decider.

"I think I showed a lot of guts," said White, clearly bemused by all the attention. White, who was 23 at the time, never got past the third round in the event and won only one tournament in her career. "I wore the outfit for fashion and function. I guess I was just ahead of my time. Swimmers wear similar outfits today to enhance performance and it's my guess that in 50 years everyone will wear them at Wimbledon."