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ST PETERSBURG, Fla. (CAP) - In an effort to bolster involvement and increase brand awareness, the women's tennis governing body has decided to remove a layer of clothing from standard female competitive attire. The proposed new rules are being implemented with the hope of reaching out to a new generation of tennis viewer who might not otherwise have expressed any interest in the sport.
"At this point, we've determined it's time to ditch the short skirty-things," said Women's Tennis Association CEO Stacey Allaster. "They've been getting ridiculously shorter as it is and we all know what's under there, so who are we fooling, really?
"It's 2011. Let's show 'em what women's tennis is all about," added Allaster.
The WTA is taking its queue from beach volleyball, which has long been the standard for skimpy women's uniforms and in fact recently announced plans to replace bikini tops with pasties beginning this summer. While the WTA is unlikely to endorse a move that bold, a $750 million marketing study commissioned by the United States Tennis Association found a number of smaller changes the sport could implement to garner interest.
"The current fleet of women in tennis is fantastic - young, supple, sexy. But they need bigger breasts," said Garnet Group Research spokesperson Gil Harvey. "Don't get me wrong, athlete breasts are great, but the sport needs more bouncing. More bouncing means more viewers and more viewers means more money."
The Garnet Group study also recommended foregoing the typical tank top with "red lacy things" that would provide the same level of support and protection as current outfits but be more titillating to the viewer. Additionally, with regard to the strict clothing traditions observed at Wimbledon, the study noted that "they said it had to be white, but they didn't say it couldn't be wet."
"Our goal is to have teenage boys locking themselves in their bedrooms with the U.S. Open," said USTA President Mary Carillo. "Granted America hasn't really had a hottie there since Ashley Harkleroad, but if you're alone in your bedroom with Jelena Dokic, do you really care what country she's from?"
Reaction from the tennis community has been overwhelmingly supportive, with many of the sport's sexier stars disappointed they aren't scrapping clothing entirely. Europeans have long held that Americans lag behind them with regard to a moral acceptance of sex, pointing to the Belgian Underground Strip Tennis Circuit as a prime example.
"Man, imagine Kim Clijsters in the nude with a serve and volley," one tennis blogger posted on his site. "At the very least, it would take the focus off of her face."
The WTA's new clothing regulations will take effect with the U.S. Open this summer, although top-ranked players are being encouraged to drop their skirts as soon as their next tournament, even in the middle of a set if possible. The Association of Tennis Professionals has yet to publish similar guidelines for men, although European Davis Cup participants are planning to drop one size in shorts for reach round they advance through this year's tournament, which should provide a tight finish.
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