LONDON—Some of the world’s top women tennis players say their game has struggled as they try to keep their new Nike tennis dress from interfering with their shots, but they also love the way the dress doubles as lingerie for later that night.
“Anytime I can pack one dress instead of two while I’m on the road I’m happy,” says Ivana Sveltka, the top-ranked Moldovan player gearing up for the second round at Wimbledon this week. “Being able to play in the dress during the day and then slip it on at night as a comfortable nightie is just wonderful.”
The dress, which Nike-sponsored players are required to wear under their sponsorship agreements with the company, breaks the mold in tennis attire by replacing the standard skirt and top design with a single, loose fitting dress that’s notable for its high cut and willowy fabric.
The company says the design is intended to enhance players’ performance by allowing them free movement on the court. “Whether you’re bending over or arching your back, it’s like having very little on,” says April Newton, a spokesperson for the company. “That freedom is what you want on the court—and it’s not a bad thing when you’re in bed later that night, either.”
John Fisher, a tennis fan who lives in London, says he usually doesn’t take much interest in the women’s game, but this year he finds himself drawn to it. “The women are really much more desirable to watch than I realized,” he says. “Usually I like the men’s athleticism, but there’s something to be said for the physical character of the women’s game as well. What I realize is, I’ve been mistakenly watching the ball all this time, while the beauty of the women’s game is in watching the player who is hitting the ball.”
Nike says it will update the dress in “Romantic Rose Red” and “Midnight Mystery Blue” for the U.S. Open later this summer.
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