For a nation that finds heaven in the long tumble from a pub doorway, the British treat tennis as a very sober business. At the US Open, you’ll find lots of commercials and “let’s goooooooo”s (and subsequent complaints about the noise from Matteo Berrettini and Nick Kyrigos). At the French Open, it’s a sportswear frenzy on an apocalyptically hot clay court. But at Wimbledon—the holiest and highest land on the tournament circuit—there’s mandated hush, a zero tolerance to cursing, and a strict emphasis on tennis whites. Drink as many Pimm’s Cups as you like, but wear a red visor and you’re out, you charlatan.
It is, undoubtedly, Wimbledon’s status that emboldens it, and allows it to behave like a top narc. But there is so much heritage here (150 years of the stuff, to be precise). To do away with tradition would be to temper Wimbledon’s history—and the sport’s next gen aren’t ready to torch the rulebook just yet.
Men’s singles contender Jannik Sinner is among them. Unlike rulebreakers of the recent past—Kyrigos was lambasted and allegedly fined $14,000 for red Air Jordan merch at last year’s tournament—the Italian ace is more than happy to toe the party line, appearing at his first match in the approved tennis whites. “Wimbledon is the most historic and prestigious tournament in tennis. The strict dress code is rooted in tradition, respect for the sport’s history and a desire to maintain formality,” he told GQ over email. “It also creates a very unique atmosphere which makes Wimbledon really special, in my opinion.”
But that doesn’t mean newness is completely off the table. On Monday evening, Sinner carried a one-of-a-kind Gucci duffle bag that’s been custom designed for the tournament—a first for both the athlete, and the most famous brand to come out of Florence (well, next to Michelangelo). Plus, its got that customizable drip that elevates the usual off-the-rack stuff: Sinner’s bag comes emblazoned with ‘JS’ initials.