Sports Club Cool: The Eternal Allure of Tennis Aesthetic

Sports Club Cool: The Eternal Allure of Tennis Aesthetic

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the eternal allure of tennis aesthetic

From Lacoste's return to the runway and Zendaya's Challengers movie to Miu Miu, Casablanca and more: tenniscore is reigning supreme.


Björn Borg. Andre Agassi. Arthur Ashe. Serena Williams. Anna Kournikova. The impeccable style of the tennis greats has never been more on our radar. The perfect storm of a rapid rise in activewear, the old-money aesthetic and new-gen prep that's dominating our social feeds has meant an ongoing obsession with all things tennis. Throw in the launch of Zendaya's long-anticipated film, Challengers, and you have one of the season’s biggest trends: tenniscore.

While the tennis trend has been floating around for the past few summers, it’s the long-awaited release of Zendaya’s new film, Challengers, that has really moved the needle. A steamy, tennis-filled flick, which charts the rivalries of three talented players, from teenhood to adulthood, it’s a visual feast.

Directed by Luca Guadagnino, the man behind Call Me By Your Name, A Bigger Splash and Bones and All, and with costume design by the genius that is Jonathan Anderson, you’d expect nothing less. Zendaya, in slicked-back braids, fresh tennis whites, and a sports-induced glow, has become our summer style muse.

And back IRL, Zendaya has gone full method dressing on the red carpet in the run-up to the film’s release. With the help of her stylist Law Roach, she’s donned a series of tennis-inspired looks for Challengers premieres across the world. There was a tennis midi dress studded with crystals and teamed with a pair of white stiletto heels featuring tennis balls by Jonathan Anderson for Loewe in Rome, and a custom Thom Browne dress embellished with the Wimbledon logo (two crossed tennis rackets) and bows for London. Not to mention a white Calvin Klein suit worn in Rome, a knitted sporting V-neck in Monaco and a grass-green Loewe gown in Sydney.

Zendaya at Challengers Premiere in white tennis dress and Loewe tennis ball heels

Zendaya at the Rome premiere of Challengers in Loewe

It's not the first time tennis has been the main character. In 2004, Kirsten Dunst and Paul Bettany headed to the South London tennis courts in a sun-soaked, very British Wimbledon. Dubbed ‘the best bad romcom of all time ever’ by Stylist, it’s saturated in the tennis aesthetic. The pleats, the visors, the tennis socks, oh my.

Kirsten Dunst in film Wimbledon

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In 2017, Emma Stone took on former world number one, Billie Jean King, in Battle of the Sexes, to recreate the true story of the 1973 tennis match between King and ex-champion Bobby Riggs. The same year saw the release of Borg vs. McEnroe, two of the biggest icons in tennis history whose contrasting style – on and off the court – made for the most exciting clashes in the game. And the style? Sweatbands, tracksuits, and tennis whites are aplenty. In more real-life-as-art, King Richard tells the story of Venus and Serena Williams’ journey to stardom – thanks in no small part to their father, Richard, played by Will Smith.

Tennis becomes the muse for Wes Anderson’s The Royal Tenenbaums. From Richie (Luke Wilson) – the former tennis champ – who’s still donning his terry cloth headband long after he’s hung up his tennis racket – to Margot (Gwyneth Paltrow) who takes her style cues from the sport with a striped tennis dress worn on repeat. A dress so iconic it inspired a capsule collection for Goop and Lacoste.

Tennis-related searches have been rising consistently over the past few years. Pinterest has confirmed that searches for 'tennis aesthetic' have increased by 37.5%, while searches for 'cute tennis outfits' by 69.95% and 'tennis clothes' by 150%. Everyone's favourite fashion analyst account, Databutmakeitfashion, has cited that general tennis searches were up 80% in March. On TikTok, #tennis has over a million posts, with #tennistiktok quickly becoming its own community on the app. The people have spoken and tenniscore is what they want.

Serena Williams playing tennis in Puma tennis whites, holding racket

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Long a backdrop to fashion, everyone from Peter Lindberg to Patrick Demarchelier and Helmut Newton have made the court their muse. 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.

Model walks down Miu Miu runway wearing white tennis co-ord

Miu Miu SS24

And when it comes to luxury brands themselves? Miu Miu followed on the success of their viral mini skirt (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 a fresh, sporting white. And for SS24, they’re embracing a new-gen take on prep with pleated skirts sent down the runway with polo necks, shirts and branded blazers.

Model walks down Casablanca runway wearing white shorts and blue knitted top

Casablanca AW24

For Moroccan French brand Casablanca, founder Charaf Tajer has given the brand a consistent tennis spin over the seasons. Think matching tennis whites but with a touch of colour: green and blue stripes finish off the edges, ‘Casablanca Tennis Club’ is emblazoned onto sweats and caps, with 'Tennis Court Sneakers' available in pops of orange, green and white. Looking ahead to AW24 and there's more tennis to come: knitted-white hoods, long white socks and pleated skirts filled the runway earlier this year. 

Lacoste made their return to the runway earlier this year as new creative director Pelagia Kolotouros made her debut with the brand’s AW24 collection at Paris Fashion Week. As expected, it featured tennis-heavy looks, from pleated skirts layered over trousers and dresses adorned with tennis racket designs, to tennis sneakers, branded jumpers and elevated polos in a palette of sporting greens and fresh white.

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Lacoste AW24

Emily Oberg’s Sporty & Rich has delved deep into the tennis aesthetic over the past few years with a series of collections that pay tribute to one of her favourite past times. Revisiting the tennis greats on their Instagram, the latest tennis collection takes its cues from the likes of John McEnroe, Björn Borg and Gabriela Sabatini with a retro tennis vibe. Think navy blue sets, quarter zip ups and chunky socks.

And it’s not just the fashion world that’s enamoured. Our beauty looks are also taking their cues from the courts. With Y2K and ‘90s-inspired looks here to stay, it’s tennis player Anna Kournikova that we’re moodboarding right now. That slick-back, to-the-bum perfect plait that became her trademark (sound familiar, Zendaya?) was made for hot, sweaty summers.

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Anna Kournikova, 1998 + Farrah Fawcett, 1976

Dig a little deeper, and you’ll find actress Farah Fawcett taking to the court with her ‘70s flip in full swing. A hairstyle so iconic that its debut on a swimsuit campaign in 1976 broke records as over 12 million copies were sold of the poster. A look that later became synonymous with her role in Charlie’s Angels and her moments on court. In 2023, it’s having a comeback with ‘70s hair trending on TikTok (#70shairstyles currently has 80.5M views with #farahfawcetthair at 6.2M views), thanks in part to the hit show Daisy Jones & The Six, which charts the antics of a fictional band in a sun-soaked ‘70s Los Angeles.

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Zendaya at the London premiere for Challengers

Fast forward to today, and Zendaya has adopted Kournikova’s tennis hair for the red carpet. Dubbed by allure as “coqueletic”, a merge of the coquette trend that’s been dominating in 2024 and the clean girl athletic vibe, the London premiere of Challengers saw the actress with a slicked-back plait. The high, tight braid used 26-inch clip-in extensions, according to her hairstylist Ursula Stephen.

As for its influence on our faces? Think fresh, dewy, radiant skin. Whilst Emma Raducanu et al might get their healthy complexions from actually playing, for the rest of us, it can be achieved with a little help from glow-giving skincare. Finish with a touch of blush (to make it look like you’ve really worked hard) and a slick of gloss.

With pickleball mania taking over last summer (a bit like tennis but combined with badminton and ping pong, the racket becomes a paddle and court is shrunken) tenniscore has grown even further. According to a 2022 report by the Sports & Fitness Industry Association, pickleball is America’s fastest-growing sport, while in the UK players are expected to triple in the next two years. Spend some time on Instagram and you’ll see why; pickleball courts are popping up in cities everywhere, from New York to London. It’s fast become a new favourite weekend pastime.

But what does it mean for your sporting wardrobe? Think stripes, shorts, pleated skirts and mini dresses. It’s that same tennis prep, but more fun. The best bit of tenniscore? You don’t even have to pick up a racket. Play on, on and off the court, we say.




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