British tennis star Alicia Barnett has opened up about the stress of wearing Wimbledon whites while being on her period and how menstrual symptoms affect her play.
Gloucestershire-born Barnett, 28, has advanced to the mixed-doubles quarter-finals alongside fellow team GB player Jonny O’Mara, after beating Venus Williams and Britain’s Jamie Murray in the round of 16 on Sunday (3 July).
Barnett and O’Mara will return to the grass courts for the quarter-finals against Australian tennis players Matthew Ebden and Samantha Stotsur on Tuesday (5 July).
Speaking with the Press Association news agency on Saturday (2 July), Barnett revealed she was a “bit stressed” about getting her period during the pre-qualifying matches.
Barnett said: “During the pre-qualifying, I was on my period and the first few days were really heavy, and I was a bit stressed about that.”
Explaining how it impacts her game, she continued: “Your body feels looser, your tendons get looser, sometimes you feel like you’re a lot more fatigued, sometimes your co-ordination just feels really off, and for me I feel really down and it’s hard to get that motivation.
“Obviously, you’re trying to play world-class tennis but it’s really hard when you’re PMS-ing and you feel bloated and tired,” she added.
When asked whether Wimbeldon’s mandatory all-white dress code should be amended to alleviate stress on female players, she told the agency: “I do think some traditions could be changed.
“I, for one, am a massive advocate for women’s rights and I think having this discussion is just amazing, that people are now talking about it,” Barnett continued adding, “I think being on your period on the tour is hard enough, but to wear whites as well isn’t easy. But girls can handle it. We’re pretty tough when it comes down to it.”
She also said she hopes the taboo around periods will continue to be worn down by players increasingly speaking about it, leading to funding for more female-focused research into training techniques.
“Why do we need to be shy about talking about it?” she asked, adding, “I know men aren’t shy about talking about a lot of things.”
When asked her thoughts on the impact of periods on sportswomen, Britain’s number six, Yuriko Miyazaki, 26, said it is “tough” for some players.
On whether the all-whites dress code should be sensitively altered, she said: “I’m not so sure.
“Obviously there’s a whole tradition about wearing whites at Wimbledon and it’s really classic,” she continued, adding, “It is tough for some female players, but it’s something I’m just very used to.”