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Wimbledon’s strict all-white dress code has been unofficially relaxed to allow players to show their support for Ukraine.
Officials are quietly giving their consent for contestants to wear blue and yellow ribbons in solidarity with the war-torn country.
Iga Swiatek, the Polish world number one, wore the emblem in her cap for her Centre Court victory on Tuesday with the prior permission of the All England Lawn Tennis Club (AELTC).
Meanwhile, Ukrainians Lesia Tsurenko and Anhelina Kalinina will face each other in their singles clash on Wednesday morning. It is expected both will wear the ribbon, having also been granted permission.
It is understood that the tournament organisers, famously stringent in their enforcement of the dress code, have made no alternation to the rules per se.
Instead, they are encouraging players who may want to make a statement on the war to speak to them in advance.
Nevertheless, the decision overturns more than a century of tradition.
The rules state that players at Wimbledon must be dressed in “suitable tennis attire that is almost entirely white”, with no more than 10mm of a non-white colour allowed in a single trim around the neckline or cuffs.
The policy is unique among the Grand Slam tournaments and has been zealously enforced over the years, regardless of criticism from leading players.
In 2017, Venus Williams was forced to leave the court to change her bra because its colour, pink, was judged to violate the code.
However, leniency in the case of the war in Ukraine would appear to align with the AELTC’s stance on the crisis, having provoked the wrath of the sport’s global regulators by banning Russian and Belarussian players from this year’s championships to avoid the chance of handing a propaganda victory to Vladimir Putin.
The tournament has been stripped of points in the world ranking system as a result.
Swiatek has consistently worn the Ukrainian ribbon during her matches since the invasion began and has said she will stop only when the country is at peace.
She recently criticised fellow players who had done similar at the start of the war but then ceased, describing it as “pretty weird because there is still a war, there are still people suffering”.
Following her first-round win on Monday, Tsurenko publicly asked to be allowed to wear a ribbon on Wednesday.
It came after she described the “tension” of knowing that the Russians had repeatedly bombed her neighbourhood in Kyiv.
“I don’t feel good,” she said. “I feel really worried, especially because I know they are trying to get one object which is 100 metres from my home, from the building where I live.”
Tsurenko also said that she found it easier to compete at the Championships with the absence of Russian players thanks to the ban.
“I feel good being at the tournament without having to see players from that country again,” she said. “In most of the cases, it's nothing personal. It’s just the situation that our countries are in a war now.
“So, yeah, for me it’s definitely less tension and I feel better.”
The apartment building where Kalinina’s family lives has been completely destroyed. She has pledged to send any prize money home to her family.