‘All frocked up in purple’: Rosie Casals, Virginia Slims, and the politics of fashion at Wimbledon, 1972 | Intellect Skip to content
Volume 5, Issue 2
  • ISSN: 2050-0726
  • E-ISSN: 2050-0734



In 1972 Rosemary (Rosie) Casals, an established player in women’s tennis and winner of several doubles championships at Wimbledon, appeared on the court of the staid English event in a tennis dress with a purple design with a ‘VS’ (Virginia Slims – a cigarette brand marketed to a female audience) embroidered on her outfit. The next day she appeared on the number one court for the women’s doubles semi-final match with the cigarette insignia clearly displayed across the front of the athletic wear. Instructed to adhere to Wimbledon’s dress code of ‘predominantly’ white outfits, officials warned Casals would be banned from further play if she did not comply. Forced to obey Wimbledon dress codes, Casals conceded, though not without a verbal assault directed at tournament officials. In this paper we argue, analysing oral history as well as various press reports in the US and abroad, that Casals’ ensemble and the reaction by officials and those in the media symbolized far more than a perceived fashion faux pas by the tennis star. Rather, Casals’ attire and public reaction to it throw into sharp relief debates around equal rights and female independence that raged throughout society during the late 1960s and 1970s. Importantly, the discussions and tensions in relation to Casals’ tennis outfit did not simply mirror these broader conversations they contributed greatly to them. The dress, like Casals, challenged rules of conduct on the court – and social convention off it. The attire was, for her, a form of self-expression, which personified a style she was eager to portray to a public, some of whom were not necessarily similarly keen on its exhibition.


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  • Article Type: Article
Keyword(s): advertising; dress code; fashion; Rosie Casals; tennis; Wimbledon
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