British Hall of Famer, Fred Perry, isn’t directly responsible for creating the tennis headband, but his influence is undeniable.
As a hack of sorts, Fred Perry initially wore white gauze around his wrists while playing at Wimbledon to prevent sweat from dripping down onto his wrists, which would make it difficult to maintain a solid grip.Later in the 1940s, Austrian football player Tibby Wegner approached Fred with an antiperspirant device to wipe sweat from an athlete’s forehead while competing.Together, they refined Tibby’s prototype, and shortly after, the sweatband as we largely know it today was born. Of course, companies eventually adapted the sweatband to the headband.
Why Wear a Headband
Tennis headbands are, first and foremost, practical. However, as tennis fashion has evolved, they’ve become equally a core tennis accessory worn by players for their style as their functionality.
One of the main reasons tennis players wear headbands is to absorb sweat on their forehead so it doesn’t drip into their eyes.Although seemingly unimportant, if you get sweat in your eyes while playing a point, it may distract you and cause you to lose focus. In the worst-case scenario, it can even obscure your vision.
In addition to wiping your face with a towel between points, a headband is a simple solution to controlling obtrusive sweat.For the best results, players will keep a few in their bag so they can swap them out for a fresh one during a changeover.
Another reason men and women will wear headbands on the court is to control their hair. Although typically more obvious a benefit for women, there are more than a handful of men sporting long locks.
When playing, getting hair in your face or eyes can be problematic, even more so when sweating heavily. Once again, a headband is a practical solution to keeping your hair out of your face and eyes.If sweat isn’t much of a problem, but your hair is, there are thinner headbands that work great for keeping your hair in place without the bulk of a typical headband. We’ll cover those in the next section.
As an individual sport in singles, tennis players have a lot of flexibility regarding their appearance. Beyond their use for absorbing sweat and controlling hair, many players where them because they like the style.
Whether your favorite player wears one or you enjoy the look, there’s nothing wrong with wearing one if you like their appearance.To that end, headbands come in various styles and colors to match nearly any player’s preference and their kit, a.k.a, outfit.
Brands & Styles of Headbands
Headbands have come a long way. If you’re in the market for one, it’s helpful to become familiar with all your options to find the one that best suits your needs and preferences.
The following are the top brands offering tennis headbands that I’d encourage you to explore if you’re looking for a new one.
A handful of these brands carry a variety of styles.
There are a handful of different style headbands you’ll find tennis players wearing these days, which I’ll outline below.It’s worth noting that virtually all tennis headbands are one size fits all, so most players won’t need to worry about sizing.
Many will be familiar with the traditional headband, especially if you grew up in the 80s. They’re clean and simple elastic bands that don’t need to be tied. Pull them over your head, and you’re ready to roll.
These aren’t super popular on the pro tour these days, but they’re some of the most convenient. American Frances Tiafoe, pictured above, is one player who rocks a traditional headband.
Easily the most popular headband for men and women is the tie headband. It comes as a single strap or piece of cloth that you place on your forehead and then wraps around your head and ties in the back.If you prefer how long or short the pieces hang down behind your head after tying them, keep length in mind.
You’ll find more men on the ATP tour wearing them than women, but they’re still plenty of ladies who use them, like Victoria Azarenka in the photo above.
Skinny, Thin, or Mini Headbands
Although generally more popular for women, a handful of men wear thinner headbands on the pro tour, most notably Dominic Thiem and Sebastian Korda.These headbands offer little sweat protection, but they are plenty effective for keeping your hair in place, and they’re not nearly as bulky. They’re also easier to wear. Like the traditional headband, they don’t require you to tie them.
It’s also worth noting that many come with rubber or silicone strips or pieces on the headband’s inside for a secure fit.
If you don’t mind a bit of extra work putting on your headband, then a folded bandana like Rafael Nadal has used over the years is another perfectly suitable option, especially if you’re looking for a bit of extra material to absorb sweat.Here’s a video showing how Rafa folds his bandana if you’re curious.
Pros Wearing Headbands
If you’re curious about the different players wearing headbands or looking for some style inspiration, this section is for you.
I’ve pulled together some of the best-known tennis players who wear headbands on the pro tour so you can explore them yourself.
Earlier in his career, Roger Federer didn’t always wear a headband, but it became a staple of his attire for most of his time as a pro.Federer uses a tie headband, which used to be Nike. However, in 2018 he joined the Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo.
Top Men’s Players Who Wear Headbands
Tennis is an individual sport, and the elite players have the opportunity to define their own brand image. The choice of head wear is a distinct element of this image and it helps fans identify and remember the player. Headbands, specifically, are widely popular on the men’s tour, but why is that? Today, Tennis Express explains the appeal of headbands and we look at some of the top men who wear them.
Nike has sponsored Rafael Nadal since he was a propitious teenager. Nadal, currently ranked world no. 2 in men’s singles, sports Nike tennis headbands resembling every color of the rainbow. You might remember Rafa’s appearance in the mid 2000’s: a disorderly mane, Capri shorts, and cut-off shirts.
Over the years, he suffered from thinning hair and underwent a transplant in 2016. Nowadays, the intense Spaniard wears a bandana to cover up his bald patches and he performs a novel wiping routine between points.
When it comes to color coordination and on-court style, no one displays it better than Roger Federer. The Swiss legend continues to dazzle the tennis universe with his graceful mobility and sharp attire.
The maroon shorts, black shirt, and maroon headband at the Aussie Open was a slick look. After a recent knee surgery, Federer reclaimed his notorious RF logo from Nike. Remarkably, he maintains a world no. 4 ranking and doesn’t plan on retiring anytime soon. His hairline is slightly receding, but he disguises it well by wearing a headband for every match.
Adidas, among other brands, sponsors Dominic Thiem, who is the world men’s number 3. Thiem has made a name for himself on the clay surface and nearly upset Djokovic in a compelling 5-set battle at the men’s Australian Open championship this year.
He’s an extraordinary character, from his interesting hairstyle (why the blonde tips?) to an odd tattoo tradition with his mom. Sometimes the dynamic Austrian wears a hat, while other times he sports a headband. Either way, it’s Adidas from top to bottom.
Last year a reporter asked Stefanos Tsitsipas if he intended to cut his hair. The answer was no.
“That’s why I wear headbands, otherwise, I’d be in huge trouble,” he explained. “I like it. It’s my trademark and I’m going to keep it.”
At 21, Tsitsipas is already the highest-ranked Greek player ever. He keeps the hair and sweat out of his face with the Adidas Tennis Tie II Hairband White. As Federer, Nadal, and Djokavic near the end of their careers, Tsitsipas expects to carry men’s tennis into a promising future.
Alexander Zverev quickly rose to prominence on the pro tour, and he currently sits at no. 7 in the world. From a distance, he looks like a shorter-haired version of Tsitsipas (they use the same Adidas hairband).
The German stand-out turns 23 next month and many believe he will be future no. 1 in the world. When asked what conditioner he uses, Zverev replied, “I use whatever is in the locker room, nothing special.”