Can you think of a sport where wearing a skirt can be advantageous to your performance? Dancing uses skirts as part of the performance, so it's a little bit different. Actually, Caroline Wozniacki (pictured above) was asked to do a twirl or two for some nasty reporters. But I don't think tennis was a sport that came to anyone's mind.
I played tennis in high school, so this garment hits close to home. Please note that I was no superstar, but I liked playing as a hobby. I never gave it too much thought back then, but we had to wear skirts for all of our uniforms. All of us practiced in shorts but we never questioned the switch when it came to playing other teams. I never saw a single school uniform without a skirt.
Where do you keep the tennis balls when you are wearing a pocket-less skirt you may ask? In the spandex shorts underneath the skirt. Oh there are no pockets there, so the spandex just holds the ball in place while you run around. My point is, I never saw a point to wearing a skirt to a game rather than just play in the shorts we practiced in. That was literally what we were used to. Shorts also have pockets, which was ideal for carrying around more balls and waste less time running around to find another ball.
Imagine a uniform without a skirt. Revolutionary. Or do you mean what men wear to play tennis?
I do not think women have an advantage by wearing fluttery girly fabric over their rather useless spandex shorts. I'd like to see side-by-side results of men wearing tennis skirts vs. a woman wearing a tennis skirt and comparing performances. A before and after sort of thing. I wrote about tennis because I know it best, but gender role defining uniforms in women's sport is still common and none of it serves a better athletic performance. An article I read called " Evolution of women's tennis apparel steered by cultural trends " said it best.
"If we can value just the performance aspect of sport of being fast, or reaching a ball, or doing the things that are necessary for skill in the sport that will be something that would be great," Del Ray said. "The problem is, the system we live in is male centered and a lot of power is on the male gaze. We are trying as females to look a certain to be approved by the male gaze and that even enters sports and it shouldn't."
I didn't delve deep enough to find an article that had an answer that I wanted to hear as to why women still wear skirts in tennis. According to the article above, there has been a lot of evolution in tennis uniforms. However, most of that evolution comes down to shrinking skirt sizes and stretchier fabric.
(Skirts in the 1900s above, Skirts in 1940s below)
How much does the 1940's tennis skirt look like what American Apparel sells? I think the whole outfit looks cutesy and I like it, but it does not look at all like an intensive sport uniform. To be honest, when American Apparel popularized them, I loved their tennis skirt style. I still have mine. At first I thought that was a little bit hypocritical of me, however, I realized that it actually brings my point closer to home. Thousands of girls were wearing really chic pleated skirts for walking at the mall, going to school, literally just stand there to model a quick fashion blog post. That's what tennis skirts are really good for. Looking cute. Not for getting down and dirty, running non-stop, side-stepping, stretching, sliding, rotating your arms in all sorts of positions.