British tennis star opens up about the pressures of playing Wimbledon on her period

British tennis star Alicia Barnett has opened up about the stress of wearing Wimbledon whites during her period and the symptoms affecting her game.

Barnett, 28, born in Gloucestershire, made her SW19 debut on Friday winning her first-round doubles matches alongside fellow England player Jonny O’Mara.

The duo will be back on the grass courts on Sunday for the second round against Venus Williams and Britain’s Jamie Murray.

Speaking to the PA news agency on Saturday, Barnett, from Painswick in Gloucestershire, said suffering a “really heavy” spell had taken its toll on his play in Championship qualifying matches.

Asked if the all-white dress code should be changed to ease the stress on female players, she told PA: “I think some traditions could be changed.

“I, for one, am a strong advocate for women’s rights and I think having this discussion is just amazing, that people are talking about it now.

“Personally, I like the all-white tradition and I think we’ll do pretty well.

“I think getting your period on the tour is hard enough, but wearing white isn’t easy either.

“But the girls can handle it. We’re pretty tough when it comes to that.

Barnett, known to her friends as Lissey, added: “During pre-qualifying I had my period and the first few days were really heavy, and I was a little stressed about it.”

When asked if it affected her ability to play, she replied: “Certainly.

“Your body feels looser, your tendons loosen up, sometimes you feel a lot more tired, sometimes your coordination feels really bad, 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 have PMS and you feel bloated and tired.

“Why do we have to be shy to talk about it?

“I know men are quick to talk about a lot of things.”

Barnett said she hopes the taboo around periods will continue to be worn down by players talking about them more and more, which will lead to funding more research focusing on women in coaching techniques.

Asked what she thought of the impact of the rules on sportswomen, Britain’s number six, Yuriko Miyazaki, 26, said it was “tough” for some players.

On whether the dress code for all white people should be sensitively changed, she said, “I’m not so sure.

“Obviously there’s a whole tradition of wearing white at Wimbledon and it’s really classic.

“It’s difficult for some players, but it’s something I’m very used to.”

Reflecting on Friday, she said her first Grand Slam so far had been “amazing” and the atmosphere “electric”, and she wished her late mother could have been there to watch.

Barnett said her tennis-mad father, siblings and friends supported her during her Court 5 match, and her mother Jennifer Barnett, who died eight years ago, would have been the “loudest and the proudest” on the sidelines.

“I think she would have loved it, and I know my dad loves it and even though he’s laughing at me, I know he’s very proud,” she said.

“It helps put things in perspective.

“Some days the losses you really struggle, like yesterday in that ladies’ doubles where we lost six in third, I really struggled to get up because I really wanted to win.

“But then you realize where you are and put that into perspective and think, OK, life is short, let’s make the most of where we are right now.”


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