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Wimbledon: Heather Watson delighted at rule change allowing women to wear coloured shorts under tennis skirts

Wimbledon chiefs have scrapped the undergarment rule for female players, allowing them to wear different colour underwear, with the change coming into effect this year; it will also impact the bras female players can wear

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British tennis star Heather Watson has expressed her happiness at Wimbledon chiefs scrapping the undergarment rule for female players, allowing them to wear different colour underwear

Heather Watson revealed her delight when Wimbledon relaxed its strict dress code after female tennis players reported period anxiety and worry about playing in all-whites at the Grand Slam.

Traditionally, all players at Wimbledon have had to adhere to a strict dress code, but there has been a clamour for the All England Club to change their rules requiring players to wear all-white clothing.

Billie Jean King and Judy Murray are a few of the names who believe the rule created anxiety for players when they are on their period.

The dress code has now been reconsidered and altered to be more considerate for female players, who are able to play in coloured shorts under their tennis skirts to reduce worry around menstrual cycles.

Last year I went on the pill to stop myself bleeding because I knew we had to wear white under-shorts and I didn't want to face any embarrassment.
Heather Watson

"When Wimbledon announced that about the under-shorts I was so happy because it makes such a big difference," a delighted Watson told Sky's Jacquie Beltrao.

"I speak openly about my period and being on my period. I don't think it's a taboo subject. I would love for people to talk about it more, especially women in sport.

"So, when I heard this I was really happy because last year I went on the pill to stop myself bleeding because I knew we had to wear white under-shorts, and I didn't want to face any embarrassment.

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"We're running around sweating, doing the splits on the court.

"This year I knew my period was going to be during Wimbledon again, so I'm very happy that I won't have to do the same thing as last year. I think it's a real positive and it's really great. Really forward-thinking."

Heather Watson waves to the crowd after losing her Ladies Singles fourth round match against Jule Niemeier during day seven of the 2022 Wimbledon Championships at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, Wimbledon. Picture date: Sunday July 3, 2022.
Image: Watson lost to Germany's Jule Niemeier in the fourth round at last year's tournament

Watson made it to the fourth round of Wimbledon for the first time in her career last year but she felt hard done by after her career-best performance did not earn her any ranking points due to the tournament being stripped of that reward in response to the decision to ban Russian and Belarussian players following Russia's invasion of Ukraine.

The 31-year-old would have received 240 points, which would have seen her ranking soar as well as gain automatic entry into other tournaments.

Instead, Watson found herself playing on the second-tier ITF Tour and the Briton has not made a Grand Slam since.

"The memories I made last year making the second week, I definitely want more of that again," Watson said.

"It went from like the best two weeks in my career to post-Wimbledon, I went back into qualifiers for Grand Slams whereas I would have been main draw for Slams for pretty much the next year.

"It was pretty tough and I haven't been able to play a lot of the tournaments I would have wanted to play because of ranking cuts, but I feel that tennis-wise and match-wise, I've played some of my best tennis in this last year but just at the wrong level."

Gauff: The decision is a big relief

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Coco Gauff says she welcomes the All England Club's decision to relax its all-white clothing regulations for Wimbledon

American Coco Gauff, who famously came through Wimbledon qualifying before upsetting Venus Williams en route to the fourth round on debut in 2019, said: "I was on my period at Wimbledon last year and it was very stressful. You have the period underwear to help you but it's still at the back of your mind.

"You go to the bathroom because you have to use the bathroom but I was using the bathroom to check I wasn't showing so I think it's going to relieve a lot of stress for me and other girls in the locker room."

Gauff recalled: "It happened to me at another tournament and luckily the referee notified me before anyone really, really saw it, but it will make the world of difference and I'm glad this conversation is happening because people deal with it and I'm glad it's not a taboo subject anymore."

Pegula: We're all ecstatic

Jessica Pegula of the U.S. reacts against Russia's Veronika Kudermetova during their match at the Madrid Open tennis tournament in Madrid, Spain, Wednesday, May 3, 2023. (AP Photo/Manu Fernandez)
Image: Jessica Pegula says it is the 'worst feeling in the world' knowing you have to play in all-whites during Wimbledon

Five-time Grand Slam quarter-finalist Jessica Pegula has called the decision a massive relief, saying: "Having to go to Wimbledon and worrying about whether you're going to be on your period, it sucks! It's the worst feeling in the world. You're wearing three different types of shorts or black shorts and white shorts over it. It's very stressful.

"As a woman, I think all of us are ecstatic that's happening because it takes a lot of stress off. Nobody wants that to happen on a big stage like Wimbledon. It's probably every woman's worst nightmare."

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