Why Tennis-Core Is Trending Again In 2024

By Robyn Mowatt ·Updated May 3, 2024

Challengers is responsible for the tennis-core trend this year. In a manner that didn’t seem forced, stylist and creative director Law Roach and red carpet darling and Emmy-winning actress Zendaya jumpstarted one of the year’s most interesting trends thus far. Law has crafted stellar red carpet moments for his client up until the release of the film (it released last weekend). If you’re convinced the trend dropped out of the sky, that’s not true. Law and Zendaya’s rollout proves that there’s strength in clothing. Since Challengers is centered around tennis, it’s no surprise that the sport is now being looked at as a launching pad for chic ways to infuse the sport into everyday wear. 

Style extraordinaire Law Roach has developed compelling ways to infuse tennis and on-the-nose hues into Zendaya’s global press moments. Days ago, the actress was spotted in a lime green knit Alexander McQueen ensemble. A cropped top accompanied by a loose-fitting sweater and a midi skirt was a fitting play on the color of tennis balls. Perhaps the most spot-on look of Zendaya’s looks for her rollout included the custom Celia Kritharioti low-cut gown in a similar bright green tone. The impressive sleeveless piece had a tennis ball attached to the middle–overall; it was a regal look. Other moments were just as compelling, but overall, Law subverted any notions associated with tennis and spearheaded a memorable assortment of looks. 

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA – APRIL 16: (EXCLUSIVE COVERAGE) Zendaya attends the Los Angeles Premiere of Amazon MGM Studios’ “Challengers” After Party at Funke on April 16, 2024 in Los Angeles, California. (Photo by Eric Charbonneau/Getty Images for Amazon MGM Studios)

Challengers, Law Roach and Zendaya may have amplified tennis-core, but the sport has received a hit of energy from the tennis champions, 26-year-old Naomi Osaka and 19-year-old Coco Gauff, in the past few years. These skilled players are following in the footsteps of the icons Serena and Venus Williams, but they’re adding their flair to the tennis market. By doing so, they’re also part of the fashion canon with each match or public appearance. 

Naomi Osaka, a Nike athlete, is unafraid to experiment with cuts, bold colors, and other means of self-expression. In fact, she attended the Met Gala in 2021 in a patterned Louis Vuitton gown with a large red ribbon tying it all together. She also donned a white Comme des Garçons dress as she received her 2018 U.S. Open Trophy. On the court, she is often wearing sporty Nike mini dresses or colorful skirt sets–the breathable pieces are always stylish. 

Why Tennis-Core Is Trending Again In 2024TOKYO, JAPAN – JULY 27: Naomi Osaka of Team Japan prepares to serve during her Women’s Singles Third Round match against Marketa Vondrousova of Team Czech Republic on day four of the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games at Ariake Tennis Park on July 27, 2021 in Tokyo, Japan. (Photo by David Ramos/Getty Images)

Gauff is a separate trailblazer forging a brightdecoding=”async” src=”https://www.essence.com/wp-content/uploads/2024/05/GettyImages-1318151109-scaled.jpeg” alt=”Why Tennis-Core Is Trending Again In 2024″ width=”400″ height=”266″ />ROME, ITALY – MAY 15: Cori Gauff of the USA celebrates winning a point during her semi-final match with Iga Swiatek of Poland on Day Eight of the Internazionali BNL D’Italia 2021 at Foro Italico on May 15, 2021 in Rome, Italy. (Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images)

A Vogue cover released earlier this year allowed fans a moment to envision her as the newest African American generational star within tennis. For the cover shot, she wore a golden Michael Kors minidress with hundreds of gems placed throughout. In another image, she posed in the brown viral Miu Miu and New Balance sneakers, a striped green logo tee by the same brand, and a micro mini-skirt in a contrasting tan hue. Each of these images catapult her into different territory–they also legitimize her as a force to be reckoned with in tennis and fashion. This stamp of approval isn’t to be taken lightly. 

Aside from young tennis players marking their territory within the sport for their generation, can tennis-core be fused into one’s everyday life? If you’re a stickler for reserving sporty clothing for activities I suggest shaking things up a bit. You can look to Aritizia and key in on pieces within their Golden Activewear line for inspiration. In the line, you can pick up a MoveTech™ Tennis Pro micro skirt, which can be worn with a simple white T-shirt and your favorite sneakers. There is also the Butter Sway romper offered in assorted hues that would easily pair with a denim jacket and chunky distressed boots. These are a few examples of how athleisure doesn’t have to be saved for indoor workouts or outdoor exercise routines. There is also a simple camisole, a tech skirt and other non-trendy options if you’d prefer to wear these items outside tennis-core for active sports. Online, the brand even categorized tennis with its own landing page for easy access. 

Why Tennis-Core Is Trending Again In 2024Aritzia

Tennis-core might not hold significant value to those who have never picked up a racket. But, the trend holds weight. It provides a way for individuals who aren’t aiming to actively play tennis to engage with it through clothing. And that’s tremendous, especially for a globally regarded sport often viewed as gate kept–that’s what makes it one of the year’s most exciting trends.


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