We've reached that time of year again when Britain garners a passing interest in tennis for the fortnight that is the Wimbledon Championships. The inaugural Championships held at the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club, Worple Road, Wimbledon, took place 146 years ago in 1877 when Spencer Gore came out on top of a field of 22 competitors to win the tournament in front of a crowd of around 200. Needless to say the tournament, now known simply as Wimbledon, has come a long way since then.
Wimbledon has become part of the "social calendar", where tennis rubs shoulders with Pimms, strawberries and of course fashion. Although much tabloid attention will focus on the courtside fashion, particularly that on display in the Royal box, at Atom Retro we'll turn our attention to the on court fashion, particularly how three players influenced fashion both on and off court, and continue to influence retro styles heavily to this day.
Perry was a 3 time champion back in the 30s and the first player to win a career slam. Known also for his dapper off court style Perry enjoyed celebrity status but had a tempestuous relationship with the Lawn Tennis Association which saw him barred from Wimbledon for several years. That dapper style and rebellious attitude would become synonymous with the brand that would bear his name, which is routinely embraced by subcultural movements most notibly the 60s Mods. However Perry's move into fashion came about through a chance meeting with Tibby Wegner, an Austrian footballer in the late 40s. Together they would create the first sweatband, but it was their second foray together in 1952 that would ensure the Perry fashion legacy. A simple white cotton pique polo shirt adorned with an embroidered laurel wreath motif, an emblem itself utilised in earlier Wimbledon Championships. The classic M6000 Tennis Shirt is still sold to this day and has obviously been joined by the M3600 with its iconic twin tipping detail.
Borg turned pro at 16 in 1973 and won his first French Open title the following having just turned 18. Young, good looking and talented teen hysteria as well as more tennis titles quickly ensued. He would win his first Wimbledon title in 1976 and would go on to win a successive five titles at the All England Club. Rocking the best pinstriped and checked polos Fila had to offer, coupled on to court in classic track jackets, Borg quickly became the king of cool and a fashion icon. The classic pinstriped Fila BB1 continues to draw in fans to this day, becoming a retro icon in its own right.
The man who would knock Borg from off the top his mount in a classic 1981 Wimbledon final, John McEnroe initially became known on the tennis circuit more his fiery temper as his playing ability. That quickly changed with McEnroe going on to win 7 grand slam titles, including three at Wimbledon, and achieving the best single season win rate in the Open Era in 1984 with 82 wins to only 3 defeats. His on court style in the early days came courtesy of Sergio Tacchini utilising minimal colour blocking in innovative ways. The segmented blocking has become commonplace in the years since, but nobody pulls it off as well as Sergio Tacchini, who still produce the iconic Supermac Polo to this day.