John McEnroe. Andre Agassi. Steffi Graf. Serena Williams. The impeccable style of the tennis greats has never been more on our radar. The perfect storm of a rapid rise in activewear, a growing obsession with a life spent back outdoors (one thing we can thank the pandemic for), and an all-out return to a ‘90s aesthetic has been amplified by the arrival of Netflix's latest documentary, Break Point. Made by the team behind Formula 1: Drive To Survive, the docu-series follows the new gen of tennis players as they set out to cement their place in tennis history, from the bad boy of the court, Nick Kyrgios, to Matteo Berrettini and Ajla Tomljanović. The result? Tennis aesthetic is a hot topic.
Tennis-related searches saw a whopping 87% rise last year with tennis skirt searches increasing by 36%. On TikTok, #tennisskirt has attracted 160.7m (and counting) views, driven by sightings of the likes of Bella Hadid sporting the look. The people have spoken and tenniscore is what they want.
Long a backdrop to fashion, everyone from Peter Lindberg to Patrick Demarchelier and Helmut Newton have made the court their muse. Vogue.com lists a mega 34 editorials in which the game takes centre stage. Adidas were so taken that they named a trainer after the great Stan Smith. And that thing we call the tennis bracelet? It was inspired by tennis star Chris Evert’s signature diamond line bracelet she wore for each match. Mixing sportswear with high-octane jewellery – think Serena William’s chunky hoops and chains – has long been at play. If football is the beautiful game, then tennis is the fashionable game.
And when it comes to luxury brands themselves? Gucci delivered a fresh white tennis skirt as part of their Love Parade collection last year. Miu Miu followed on the success of their viral miniskirt (so famous it launched an Instagram account) with a second helping of the style for AW22. This time it was directly inspired by tennis tastemakers in sporting white.
The viral Jacuqemus x Nike collab of last year saw founder Simon Port Jacquemus take inspiration from the late ‘90s, Princess Di’s sporting fits, and, as he told British Vogue, ‘the DNA of tennis’. The result was fresh white sporting styles ft. unexpected touches: an open back with a thin strap bearing Nike’s signature Swoosh and a long white dress with a dramatic Swoosh train.
For Moroccan-French brand Casablanca, founder Charaf Tajer has given the brand a tennis spin for the past few seasons. Think matching tennis whites but with a touch of colour: green and blue stripes finish off the edges, ‘Casablanca Tennis Club’ is stitched onto sweats and caps while pleated skirts and artfully placed jumpers were worn across the shoulders of models on his SS23 runway.
The best bit of tenniscore? You don’t even have to pick up a racket. Play on, on and off the court, we say.