The Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) says it has “modernised” its dress code with the rollout of a new rule, allowing leggings and mid-thigh length compression shorts to be worn without a skirt or dress during matches.
The change is part of a number of measures announced for the 2019 season, as the world body looks to take a “progressive” and “current” approach.
Although there was no prior rule prohibiting a player from wearing leggings without a skirt, the WTA said it “approved language to make its position explicitly clear”.
“We wanted to be progressive and make sure that we were current with where fashion is going and competitive-wear may be going,” WTA CEO Steve Simon said in an interview, explaining the changes.
“We also wanted to give our players the chance to be who they want to be and wear what they want, what they feel comfortable competing in,” he added.
Top female players, who are often seen wearing leggings or three-quarter length tights during practise, have welcomed the change.
“It’s really nice for players who can wear this without any problems and to be free to do anything they like,” Tunisia’s Ons Jabeur, world number 56, told Al Jazeera.
Oman’s Fatma Al Nabhani, who is one of the players on the professional circuit who wears leggings with her skirt, thanked the WTA.
“Let’s rock our leggings,” she wrote on her Instagram page.
Female players often wear leggings for matches played under cold conditions [Saba Aziz/Al Jazeera]
Many consider the rule practical and “wise”, especially at tournaments played in colder climates.
“I’ve never played in tights, but when it’s cold we need those to keep the muscles warm,” world number two Simona Halep said during a press conference at the Qatar Open, adding she would still prefer wearing a skirt over leggings.
The case of the catsuit
The dress code applies only to WTA tournaments on the calendar, while Grand Slams, which come under the jurisdiction of the International Tennis Federation, are entitled to set their own rules.
WTA’s announcement comes after the French Tennis Federation president objected to the full-body catsuit worn by American tennis star Serena Williams at the French Open in May, saying it will no longer be accepted at the tournament.
The French Open’s ban on the skin-tight outfit, which was specially designed by Williams’s sponsor, Nike, to help avoid blood clots post-pregnancy, drew considerable backlash and was slammed as “racist” and “sexist”.
For the record, Serena Williams wasn’t the first woman to wear a catsuit at a Grand Slam. Anne White did it in 1985 at the US Open. They knew this was a possibility but didn’t ban it until Serena did it for MEDICAL REASONS. pic.twitter.com/0GyDbKnhEO
— ✨Mizzly✨ (@mizzlywizz) August 24, 2018
Players on tour are still divided on the 23-time Grand Slam champion’s choice of attire.
“Serena had a message for women behind it (the catsuit) and I completely support her in that,” Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina said at a press conference in Doha.
Former world number one and 2016 US Open finalist Karolina Pliskova told Al Jazeera: “I didn’t like it, but if they allow it, she can wear whatever she wants.”
It was not the first time a player got called out for wearing a catsuit at a Grand Slam.
In 1985, American Anne White was also told to wear something more “appropriate” by the Wimbledon referee after she played her first round in a long-sleeved white spandex bodysuit.
Oman’s top player Nabhani wears leggings with her skirt for all her matches [Saba Aziz/Al Jazeera]
There was more controversy around clothing and women’s tennis last year.
Frenchwoman Alize Cornet got a code violation warning of “unsportsmanlike behaviour” for changing her top behind the baseline on the court, revealing a sports bra.
The US Open later issued an apology and clarified its policy.
“All players can change their shirts while sitting in the player chair,” the tournament said in a statement. “This is not considered a code violation.”
“Female players, if they choose, may also change their shirts in a more private location close to the court, when available,” it added.
But some still feel that women tennis players face more restrictions compared with men when it comes to clothing.
“They should make everything equal – either for men or women,” said Jabeur. “They cannot treat men different than women.”
Former world number one Caroline Wozniacki on the practise court in Doha [Saba Aziz/Al Jazeera]
Follow Saba Aziz on Twitter: @saba_aziz
Children killed in attack on Cameroonian school
Assailants storm private school in city of Kumba, Southwest Region, killing at least four students.Attackers have opened fire on a private school in Cameroon’s Southwest Region, killing at least four children, according to officials. The unknown assailants stormed the Mother Francisca School in the city of Kumba on Saturday. There was no immediate claim of…
Assailants storm private school in city of Kumba, Southwest Region, killing at least four students.Attackers have opened fire on a private school in Cameroon’s Southwest Region, killing at least four children, according to officials.
The unknown assailants stormed the Mother Francisca School in the city of Kumba on Saturday. There was no immediate claim of responsibility.
“They attacked around noon. They found the children in a class and they opened fire on them,” Kumba sub-prefect Ali Anougou told the Reuters news agency.
At least nine other students were wounded and sent to the hospital. There were fears the death toll could rise.
The Associated Press news agency quoted Anougou as blaming separatists who have been fighting the military in parts of western Cameroon for the attack.
Cameroon’s two Anglophone regions – the Northwest and Southwest Regions – are home to a large minority of English speakers in a country where French speakers are the overwhelming majority – a situation that is the legacy of the decolonisation of western Africa by France and Britain more than 60 years ago.
In late 2016, long-standing complaints of political and economic discrimination against English speakers by the central government spilled over when lawyers, students and teachers began calling for reforms.
The government’s lethal response to the protests provoked rebels to declare in 2017 independence for a region they call “Ambazonia”, triggering a stronger crackdown by the authorities.
Both sides have since been accused of committing atrocities in a conflict that has killed some 3,000 people and forced hundreds of thousands of people from their homes.
Anglophone secessionists have imposed curfews and closed schools as part of their protest against President Paul Biya’s government.
Last year, officials blamed separatists for kidnapping dozens of schoolchildren, charges the separatists denied.
Vietnamese envoy hails KRCS’ global humanitarian efforts
KRCS Chairman Dr Hilal Al-Sayer meets Vietnamese Ambassador to Kuwait Trinh Minh Manh. – KUNAKUWAIT: Vietnamese Ambassador to Kuwait Trinh Minh Manh hailed the humanitarian efforts of Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) around the world. The remarks were made to KUNA yesterday after the ambassador’s meeting with KRCS Chairman Dr Hilal Al-Sayer. He expressed appreciation…
KRCS Chairman Dr Hilal Al-Sayer meets Vietnamese Ambassador to Kuwait Trinh Minh Manh. – KUNAKUWAIT: Vietnamese Ambassador to Kuwait Trinh Minh Manh hailed the humanitarian efforts of Kuwait Red Crescent Society (KRCS) around the world. The remarks were made to KUNA yesterday after the ambassador’s meeting with KRCS Chairman Dr Hilal Al-Sayer. He expressed appreciation for the society’s aid to the Vietnamese Embassy during the coronavirus crisis.
The ambassador added that they discussed providing his country with aid to face the impact of the recent floods and landslides, considered to be the worst in decades. Sayer said he was pleased with the ambassador’s visit and affirmed that KRCS will continue exerting humanitarian efforts to aid those affected by natural disasters and crises everywhere. – KUNA
Pain, frustration: Expats lose jobs to new rules and COVID
File photos show foreign workers applying to leave Kuwait during the amnesty. – Photos by Yasser Al-ZayyatBy Chidi Emmanuel After working for 24 years in Kuwait, Charley Lyon received the dreaded letter that many expats fear amid the economic downturn, coronavirus pandemic and new residency laws. Lyon is among thousands of expat workers in the…
File photos show foreign workers applying to leave Kuwait during the amnesty. – Photos by Yasser Al-ZayyatBy Chidi Emmanuel
After working for 24 years in Kuwait, Charley Lyon received the dreaded letter that many expats fear amid the economic downturn, coronavirus pandemic and new residency laws. Lyon is among thousands of expat workers in the government sector who were being laid off.
As part of its Kuwaitization policy, Kuwait is replacing expats with locals in the government sector. The government has also stopped issuing work permits to expats over 60 years of age without a university degree. These new rules have had a huge impact on the lives of thousands of expats in the country, leaving many with no choice but to pack their bags and leave.
Gulf countries are facing an exodus of foreign workers as the coronavirus pandemic pushes out foreign workers. In the midst of the COVID-19 and financial crunch, the National Assembly approved a draft law to slash expat numbers over the next five years.
As the budget deficit widens and economic conditions worsen, Kuwait is grappling with an economic downturn as COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc around the world. The combined shock of collapsing oil prices, the pandemic and joblessness is reshaping labor policies in the region, thus bringing anti-foreigner sentiments to the fore again.
While Kuwait’s expats struggle to secure their jobs, the government is calling for an increase in workforce nationalization in government entities. “Why will foreigners take the jobs meant for us (Kuwaitis)? They can work anywhere – but not in the ministries,” argued Abdullah, a 26-year-old Kuwaiti.
Buttressing Abdullah’s viewpoint, Fatma, an unemployed Kuwaiti woman, complained of the difficulty in competing with foreign workers for jobs in the private sector. “Foreign workers can work longer for less, unlike us Kuwaitis. So most companies prefer to hire non-Kuwaitis. This leaves us with only one sector (the public sector). I think this is why the government introduced Kuwaitization, so as to give unemployed Kuwaitis an opportunity,” she explained.
For Lyon, justice and fairness should override anti-expat sentiments. “It is understandable that ministries would give preference to locals for jobs during these tough times, but it would be fair to consider the efforts of the old staff who have put in their best to build this country,” Lyon, 61, and some of his co-workers who were laid off recently lamented, as they worry about their future.
Expats make up the majority of the population of Kuwait. Residency is tied to employment and Kuwait does not easily offer citizenship routes to non-nationals. “We have been here (in Kuwait) legally for over 20 years. It will be difficult to go back and start afresh in our home countries. More so, Kuwait’s residency is linked to the work permit – when you lose your job, you automatically lose your residency. I worry about my children who are still in school. The three-month notice will not be enough to relocate them,” Mustapha, an Egyptian expat who recently lost his job, said in dismay.
Abdurazak Hamad, an African expat, is in a dilemma. “I feel miserable leaving my family behind. I don’t want to go alone, but I can’t make my wife quit her KD 450 job since she is now the sole breadwinner. Starting afresh in my home country at this age (62) will be very difficult. I wish I can get a permit (residency) to stay here with my family,” said Hamad, who was recently sacked.