Tennis is a game that has accepted change with glacier-like speed—until recent years, that is, when it seems to have embraced every idea urged upon it, no matter how nutty. Metal rackets instead of wood? Wonderful. Team game instead of individual? Great. Play indoors instead of out? Terrific. Composition surface instead of grass at Forest Hills? Splendid. Tie breakers instead of traditional scoring? Marvelous.
And, most significantly, vibrantly colored Clothing instead of stuffy, drab, dull, depressing, backward, old-fashioned white. This was the change that brought the traditionalists to the cliff of apoplexy. Now players all look terribly spiffy in rainbow-hued outfits. Color in tennis wearing apparel made abundant sense because it was in tune with the times. Until now—because suddenly it is going out of style. What will take the place of color? White, of course.
Just after millions of Americans finally became a part of the color revolution on the courts, Arnold M. Schoenfeld, president of New York-based Loomtogs, says you're all too late. "For women, white is a kind of chaste come-on," he contends. "It makes them look taller, leaner and sexier. The problem with color is we are seeing it on a lot of bodies on which it should not be. Men? They like to feel traditionally clad." Therefore, colored tennis clothes should be downgraded to the sale racks soon, says Schoenfeld.
But in a world of color, why white? Schoenfeld, who plays in a pair of 1957 white shorts with a rip in the pocket, says, "People who play tennis feel they are part of a sports aristocracy. White provides the dignity and classiness they feel the game deserves." There may be touches of blue on tennis dresses, a hint of yellow, but no more smack-in-your-face red. Quite simply, white outfits will get their style from pleats and tucks.
Though colorful clothing did not appear on the courts until the late '60s, the revolution in tennis apparel really started in 1949 with Gussie Moran's lace panties, an event Tracy Austin may never have heard about.
Schoenfeld, who began making tennis clothes back when people snickered at a game in which love meant nothing, estimates 75% of all tennis fashion sold in the fall of '77 will be white. Who will buy the remaining 25%? "The newcomers to the sport who get fished into it," says Schoenfeld. And, perhaps, women with bouffant hairdos.
But yellow tennis balls are still In.