US Open Tennis Style Through the Decades

From its founding in 1881 to today, the U.S. Open has evolved — and so have the styles worn on the court.

Looking back to the 1960s, style was more like what one might expect at Wimbledon today, with athletes stepping out in tennis whites. Arthur Ashe sported a polo shirt, crisp shorts, crew socks and white sneakers as he battled his opponents in 1965.

Arthur Ashe wears tennis whites at the 1965 U.S. Open.
Arthur Ashe wears tennis whites at the 1965 U.S. Open.

The 1960s also brought with them the launch of the Adidas Stan Smith. (The tennis star received the Manolo Blahnik Lifetime Achievement Award at the 2017 FNAAs.)

The now-iconic shoe was initially named after French pro Robert Haillet. But when Adidas wanted to boost the sneaker’s U.S. presence, designer Horst Dassler searched for a new sponsor and landed on Smith.

Stan Smith, US Open
Stan Smith lobs a ball over the net at the U.S. Open in 1970.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Smith wore his namesake sneakers — Haillet’s name was fully removed by 1978 — to the U.S. Open.

In the 1970s, athletes began to infuse more color into their on-court looks. Two-time U.S. Open champ Tracy Austin stepped out in a pastel pink look with bows in her hair in 1977, wearing pom-pom socks with her white and pale blue sneakers.

By the 1990s, tennis looks had become more similar to what we expect today. Serena Williams, sponsored by Puma in the 1990s, sported a coordinated — and heavily branded — look as she won the Grand Slam in 1999.

WILLIAMS Serena Williams, of Palm Beach Gardens, Fla., sticks her toung out during her match against Kimberly Po, of Rolling Hills, Calif., at the U.S. Open tennis tournament, in New YorkUS OPEN, NEW YORK, USA
Serena Williams in Puma at the 1999 U.S. Open
CREDIT: RON FREHM/Shutterstock

In years since, Williams has continued to push the bounds with her style, whether it be by sporting bold colors or by wearing a Matrix-esque outfit complete with a leather jacket, like she did at the 2004 Open.

Serena Williams wears a Nike-designed look at the 2004 U.S. Open.
Serena Williams wears a Nike-designed look at the 2004 U.S. Open.
CREDIT: Shutterstock

Throughout the 2010s, wild on-court looks have become the norm — and the fashion has become almost as big of a deal as the matches themselves.

For instance, Roger Federer made headlines at last year’s tournament in Off-White x Air Jordan 1 kicks.

Roger Federer Wears Off-White x Air Jordan 1
Roger Federer wears the Off-White x Air Jordan 1 during Arthur Ashe Kids’ Day.
CREDIT: Ella Ling/Rex Shutterstock

And Williams will follow suit this year, already generating tons of buzz with the Virgil Abloh-designed looks she plans to wear on the court.

Click through the gallery to see more U.S. Open style through the decades.

Want more?

The Most Fashionable Tennis Dresses at the USOpen

imbox Sponsored

Customer Experience, Revenue Stream and Sustainability Come Wrapped in an IMBOX

Sustainable, footwear protection technology company, IMBOX Protection, is bringing its in-store service to the U.S. market for increased foot traffic and basket size with a new revenue stream.
Learn More

Access exclusive content