Wimbledon relaxes strict all-white rule so players can show support for Ukraine

Wimbledon is abandoning its strict all-white rule for players who want to show solidarity with Ukraine after Russia’s invasion, it is understood.

Poland’s Iga Świątek, the women’s world No 1, wore a blue and yellow ribbon on her cap today in a sign of unity with Ukraine. The Ukrainian players Lesia Tsurenko and Anhelina Kalinina are also expected to wear ribbons when they come up against each other on Wednesday.

Tsurenko told a press conference on Monday that she was considering wearing something in a show of solidarity. “Can we wear the ribbon on the match?” she asked. “Because today I was not sure. I don’t know with the Wimbledon rules if we can wear the ribbon.”

Kalinina later said she would have a discussion with Tsurenko before the pair’s second-round match about ways in which they could make a statement together.

The tournament has a strict dress code which states that “competitors must be dressed in suitable tennis attire that is almost entirely white and this applies from the point at which the player enters the court surround. White does not include off-white or cream”.

But Wimbledon is understood to have made a rare exception.

Kalinina and Tsurenko spoke of the horrors of the war after their first-round victories on Monday.

Kalinina told reporters that her family’s home had “huge holes” in it after Russian bombings, but said her loved ones were alive and safe.

She added: “But they live like many other Ukrainians … so you never know what’s going to happen tomorrow because everything looks like sometimes quiet. But then yesterday was two rockets in Kyiv, in the centre.”

Tsurenko said she was relieved that Russian and Belarusian players were absent from Wimbledon, even if it was nothing personal, saying: “I feel good being at the tournament without having to see players from those countries again. In most of the cases it’s nothing personal.”