Few sports combine fashion with performance like tennis. Like Serena and Venus Williams’ history-making tennis outfits of the early 2000s or the court-inspired athleisure looks making the rounds on social media, it’s clear that tennis — and tennis clothes — have staying power.
But if you’re serious about your game, you need your tennis clothing to perform as well as they look. Elevate your serves with our picks for the best tennis clothes for women.
Tennis coaches and personal trainers gave us the scoop on what features to look for in women’s tennis clothes. Every item on our list not only offers these features, but meets the highest standards in the following categories:
- Fit and size inclusivity
Hunt for tops that are breathable, lightweight and offer plenty of give. When in doubt, check the tag for a blend of sweat-wicking and stretchy fabrics like polyester, nylon and spandex.
Whether you choose tennis tops with long sleeves, short sleeves or no sleeves, it’s important that you have full range of motion. Test out your top by moving your arms around to ensure that you’re not limited by a tight fit. You don’t want to feel constricted in your top, especially when trying to serve the ball.
Our Pick: Nike Dri-FIT Women’s Training Tank
Diana Bukajeva, tennis leader at Life Time in Fridley, Minnesota, prefers tank tops, as they offer the most freedom of movement. This Nike top is one of her favorites. It features the brand’s signature Dri-FIT technology, which wicks away sweat and provides an odor-resistant finish to keep you fresh. A relaxed fit guarantees easy movement. Score this tank in basic black or white, or vibrant blue, peach, green or purple. Bonus: Sizes go up to 3X.
Buy it: Nike.com; Price: $25
You might be able to get away with a little less support for tennis than you would need for activities like running or soccer, “but keeping things where they should be is still top priority here,” says Caroline Grainger, CPT, an ISSA-certified personal trainer at FitnessTrainer Online Personal Trainers.
Encapsulation sports bras have individual cups that separate and mold your breast shape, and they offer more support than compression-style sports bras that “compress” your breasts against your chest. People with larger breasts may find encapsulation sports bras most comfortable, whereas people with smaller breasts may be able to make do with compression sports bras. That said, choose the style you prefer.
Our Pick: SHEFIT Ultimate Sports Bra
This SHEFIT bra has a front zip for easy on and off, a wide, adjustable band for increased support and shoulder straps you can tighten or loosen in a flash. The shoulder straps can also be worn in X- or H-back formation. The bra has removable pads for maximum coverage and seamed cups for a more natural shape.
If you like to play tennis in skirts, look for options with inner shorts and seamless pockets for tennis balls, Bukajeva says.
Also, prioritize breathable, sweat-wicking fabrics. Even if you don’t cover every inch of skin, you want the inches you do cover to stay cool and dry.
The right length varies depending on your height and personal preference — choose a length you feel comfortable wearing.
Our Pick: Lululemon Pace Rival Mid-Rise Skirt
You’ll stay cool and dry in this Bukajeva-recommended skirt made from lightweight, quick-drying material. A shorts liner adds coverage and staves off chafing. The liner also has stretchy pockets where you can stash a tennis ball and phone. Choose between three skirt lengths (12 inches, 15 inches and 17 inches), so you can pick the most comfortable length. You have multiple color and print options, such as white, camo and bright pink.
It’s crucial that your tennis shorts provide plenty of flexibility for movement, Bukajeva says. After all, you don’t to cut your direction changes short with restrictive fabrics and shapes. Opt for shorts with some stretch that are made of light-as-air fabrics. A liner can come in handy, too.
Our Pick: Athleta Mesh Racer Run Short 4”
These may be billed as running shorts, but Bukajeva loves them for tennis, too. They’re relaxed with a silky, lightweight feel. The no-slip waistband keeps your shorts in place, so you can focus on your game. A built-in brief boosts coverage, while a zip and hidden pocket keep your items secure.
To sweeten the deal, Athleta made these shorts from recycled polyester sourced from post-consumer plastic bottles. A water-repellent fabric finish will keep your shorts dry in light mists. Reviewers say these shorts fit true to size. You can get a pair in sizes XXS to 3X.
If dresses are more your jam, you can’t go wrong with one made with sweat-wicking, flexible fabric combos like polyester, Lycra and nylon. Go for a tennis outfit that incorporates a shorts liner to ward off thigh chafing.
Pockets are always a bonus, too. This way, you’ll have a spot to keep essentials like your phone, keys and extra tennis balls.
Our Pick: Lululemon Everlux Short-Lined Tennis Tank Top Dress 6”
This pick boasts a super flattering sleeveless top and contoured fit, with a flowy skirt that falls just above the knee. A built-in shorts liner adds coverage, along with a pocket to hold a tennis ball and your phone. It’s made of fast-drying Everlux fabric that feels cool on the inside and brushed on the outside, along with added Lycra for stretch and shape retention. A cut-out in the back of the top boosts airflow during intense sessions. Get it in white, black or magenta.
You want pants that fit closer to your body so you don’t trip over yourself when you change directions to dig out a surprise backhand, Grainger says. But you also want pants that are breathable to help you cool off during breaks. “Pockets for extra balls are also nice to have,” Grainger says.
Our Pick: Nike NikeCourt Dri-FIT Women’s Knit Tennis Pants
Throw on these jogger-inspired pants for cooler days on the court. The sweat-wicking material will keep you toasty as you get the blood flowing. Choose whether you want the ankle cuffs to be zipped open or closed, which also makes it easy to slide them off if you get hot and have a lighter layer underneath.
Buy it: nike.com; Price: $80
The best tennis socks are soft and no-slip, Bukajeva says. Breathable, sweat-wicking materials and extra cushioning in hot spots are also key. After all, nothing slows your game like a painful blister.
Sock height is the player’s choice, but taller socks may offer greater coverage and blister protection.
Our Pick: Thorlos Tennis Crew Socks
These calf-length socks offer the brand’s maximum level of protection for high-intensity activities in various weather conditions. The fabric is super soft and quick-drying. Plus, extra density padding ups the durability of the sock and provides greater protection against shock and impact forces. There’s also lightweight padding in the arch for added support, as well as padding over the toe to safeguard against blisters from sudden stops and starts.
When it comes to tennis, standard running shoes and cross-training shoes won’t do.
“Those quick direction changes are a great way to slip or twist something if you’re not careful,” Grainger says.
“Foot and ankle injuries are common when players don’t wear the right kind of shoes,” Dr. Stack says.
Running shoes, for example, won’t give you the stability and support you need for lateral movements. Instead, look for actual tennis shoes, and prioritize finding the right fit. Look for shoes that fit snugly and comfortably so your foot doesn’t slide around or roll to the side. However, check that the shoe isn’t too tight, as you can develop blisters or reduce circulation, Dr. Stack says.
Also, consider the color of the sole, “as some clubs or courts have a restriction on the sole color to prevent marks,” Dr. Stack says. Most non-marking soles are white, but there are plenty of non-marking black soles as well.
Our Pick: Asics Gel-Resolution 8
Both Dr. Stack and Grainger are fans of the Gel-Resolution 8. Dr. Stack says they offer stellar stability and cushioning — two essential attributes of a tennis shoe. Cushioning in the heel and midfoot help reduce impact from stop-and-go movements, a torque control feature in the heel counter gives a locked-in feel during quick transitions, and a toe protector increases traction.
Buy it: Asics.com; Price: $114.95
If you’re playing on an outdoor court, sunglasses are a must-have. In particular, shades that are polarized for UV protection, along with anti-fog and anti-glare coatings, Bukajeva says. This will protect your eyes from the sun’s rays and keep your lenses clear in all weather conditions, making it easier to follow the bouncing ball.
Our Pick: Bolle Bolt 2.0 S
These highly-rated performance sunglasses were built for smaller faces. They offer 100 percent UV protection, anti-fog technology and an adjustable nose pad for a custom fit. Thermogrip technology at strategic touch points on the frames is engineered to get grippier when you get sweaty. The lenses were built to withstand high impact, so there is no fear if they get hit with a tennis ball.
Head gear adds another layer of sun protection. Select a style with an adjustable band to ensure it stays put during matches, and check that the brim isn’t so long that it limits your field of vision, Bukajeva says.
A hat or visor made of sweat-wicking materials can help you stay dry and comfortable when things heat up.
Our Pick: Lululemon Women’s Fast and Free Running Hat Elite
It’s designed for running, but this hat pulls double-duty for singles and doubles. One reviewer writes that the hat is a “must-have for tennis players.” It incorporates mesh fabric panels for ventilation, an interior sweatband to keep sweat out of your eyes and lightweight, quick-drying Swift fabric. Customize the fit with the adjustable back closure.
What to Look for in Tennis Clothes
1. Comfortable Performance Materials
These are two of the most important components of any tennis gear you’ll purchase. “Features that add to my comfort on the court includes soft, breathable fabrics with and moisture-wicking technology to stay cool, and so your clothes don’t weigh you down,” says Amy Dean, tennis pro at Life Time, based in Eden Prairie, Minnesota.
Being able to see the court and the ball are obviously key when it comes to winning a tennis match. “The ability to see the ball clearly improves your accuracy and overall visibility of the court — and the ball,” says Nelo Phiri, tennis coach at Life Time, based in Westchester, New York.
Be sure to try out any gear you’re buying to ensure it doesn’t impede your field of vision. A sweat band, hat or visor can also help. “Some players wear them to keep their hair out of their face or to help reduce sweat getting in your eyes,” Dean says.
While not all pieces of garb you wear will have storage for you to tuck away balls, at least one of the pieces in your outfit should. “Whether in a match situation or a drill group, having a place to stash tennis balls is a must in this sport,” Dean says. You don’t necessarily need a dedicated pocket, but even a tight short hem with grips will do the trick.