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Nike’s revealing ‘baby doll’ dress for Wimbledon draws flak from players

Wimbledon stars have joined forces to slam the controversial dress causing a stir among female players shocked by its revealing ‘baby doll’ style.

Wimbledon 2016 Updated: Jun 28, 2016 16:25 IST
Wimbledon,Donna Vekic,Serena Williams
Croatia's Donna Vekic in action during her match against USA's Venus Williams.(REUTERS)

Wimbledon stars have joined forces to slam the controversial dress causing a stir among female players shocked by its revealing ‘baby doll’ style.

Kit manufacturers Nike have been keen to push their ‘Premier Slam’ dress during the grass-court Grand Slam, but the outfit has been deemed too skimpy by the likes of former Wimbledon finalist Sabine Lisicki.

Concerned that the dress shows too much flesh when it flies up above the waistline, several players with Nike contracts reportedly asked for the kit to be altered ahead of Wimbledon.

Although Wimbledon has a notoriously strict attitude to players’ dress, All England Club officials passed the design because it complies with their all-white kit rules.

However, the players themselves are less impressed with the ‘baby doll’ outfit.

Lisicki, the 2013 Wimbledon runner-up, made it clear it was too risqué for her taste after opting not to wear it during the German’s first round win over Shelby Rogers.

Germany's Sabine Lisicki celebrates after winning her match against USA's Shelby Rogers. (REUTERS)

“Yes I did (try the dress). I didn’t feel comfortable showing that much (flesh),” she said.

Describing why she chose to wear a more restrained skirt and vest top, the 26-year-old added: “I felt comfortable in it. For me, the most important thing is to feel comfortable and not to think about anything, and with this I feel great.

“I like it. I think it looks good. It’s classic. So that’s why I picked that one.”

Even defending Wimbledon champion Serena Williams, Nike’s highest profile client, will wear a slightly adapted version of the outfit when she plays on Tuesday.

The outfit is said to be more structured and features a nipped in waist and a higher neckline.

Serena’s sister Venus is well versed in the fashion world as the five-time Wimbledon champion’s EleVen company design clothes for the “fashion-forward athletic woman”.

Venus caught the eye with a new haircut featuring dyed red weaving during her first round victory against Donna Vekic, but her outfit was more conservative, unlike Croatian teenager Vekic, who opted to wear the baby doll dress.

US player Venus Williams celebrates beating Croatia's Donna Vekic during their women's singles first round match on the first day of the 2016 Wimbledon Championships in Wimbledon, London. (AFP Photo)

The 36-year-old American, the oldest woman in the draw, said she was keen to remain fashionable but valued a practical outfit as well.

“I’ve had a lot of fashion adventures, that’s for sure. But it’s never stopped me on the court. I’ve been able to play my best. It hasn’t been an issue,” Venus said.

“Fashion is very important for me, so it always has to be fashionable. But clearly it has to be functional.

“They go hand-in-hand. I wouldn’t say one is ahead of the other.

“But it’s easy to design something functional without being fashionable. It’s about challenging yourself to push it a little bit.”

Sara Errani, the Italian 20th seed, also opted to snub the dress for her first round win against Patricia Maria Tig.

“They (Nike) give you the option what you prefer, and I prefer the one that I wear today,” Errani said.

“They are flexible. I mean, if you don’t feel really comfortable with something you can ask them and it’s no problem.

“The important thing is to be comfortable on the court and feel good to play.”

First Published: Jun 28, 2016 12:44 IST