In an incident that vividly recalls that one time I told myself thigh-high tights were a very good idea and would definitely stay up, Nike is facing criticism over a dress it specially designed for tennis players. The “Premier Slam” resembles nothing so much as an athletic nightgown, and it does not stay down or keep athletes covered when they’re trying to play tennis.
Yahoo reported last week that tennis players at Wimbledon were complaining that the dress is way too short and floaty; the Daily Mail, as is their wont, displayed numerous photos of the dress malfunctioning mid-match on Czech player Lucie Safarova. If you look at the dress on Nike’s website, it looks a lot like a shirt. A hundred-dollar, baby doll-style shirt.
The Mail claims, too, that Serena Williams refused outright to wear the dress without alterations, as did Sabine Lisicki. The tabloid also says that Nike requested players wearing the dress send it back for alterations because it was pushing the boundaries of the Wimbledon dress code, which requires “common standards of decency at all times.” The slits in the dress were apparently sewn up to make the garment more seaworthy.
The New York Times reported Tuesday that tennis players were improvising with headbands and shorts to make the dress into something they could actually wear:
“When I was serving, it was coming up, and I felt like the dress was just everywhere,” Rebecca Peterson of Sweden said. “In general, it’s quite simple, the dress, but it was flying everywhere.”
Peterson played with a long-sleeved shirt over her dress to hold the dress somewhat in place.
Katie Boulter improvised by tying a headband around her waist to serve as a belt, which held the fabric somewhat more in place. Lucie Hradecka wore leggings underneath the dress, effectively turning it into a shirt.
At least a couple players defended the dress as “nice,” including Eugenie Bouchard, a 2014 Wimbledon finalist who modeled the dress in Nike promos. According to the Times, she told the network TSN: “For me, I love it. It’s nice and short so you can move around and be free with your movements. Yeah, I don’t know. It’s funny that people paid a lot of attention to it, but I really think it’s really nice.”
We’ve emailed Nike for comment and will update should we hear back.
Update, 11:45 a.m.:
“The product has not been recalled and we often customize products and make alterations for athletes as they compete. We work closely with our athletes to provide them with product that helps them perform and feel their best on the court.”
Bouchard in The Dress, June 28, 2016. Photo via AP