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The History of the Tennis Bracelet

How the iconic bracelet style got its name.

Town & Country Magazine

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Tennis bracelets

Tennis—perennially popular—seems to be more and more omnipresent these days. True, only some of us can call ourselves truly seasoned tennis players, but the stylings of the sport have taken their place as sartorial superstars off the court too. Take the tennis bracelet, a simple string of diamonds, oft thought to be synonymous with upper crust country club attire. Always in fashion, the jewelry style seems to be everywhere these days. But how did an eternity strand of diamonds come to be so ubiquitously thought of as a 'tennis bracelet'? Tennis player Chris Evert is to credit.

The tennis championships in question? The 1987 U.S. Open of course. The world class professional tennis player Evert was in the midst of a highly competitive match during which her string diamonds fell off her wrist, prompting the champion to request a pause for play so she could look for jewels. From then on, the name tennis bracelet was tied to Evert.

But the date of which this occurred is somewhat up for debate. Though some jewelry fanatics maintain that this term was coined in 1987—when the incident occurred—there is evidence to suggest that perhaps it was related to Evert's choice to don the piece in the '70s. The popularizing of a low-key luxury item also falls in line with the general fashion shift of the era.

The seventies brought about a time in which wearability was centered around throw it on with anything—not just for special occasions. Think: the rise of Elsa Peretti baubles and the evanescence of the love bracelet. So, it would be more than logical that when Evert, who was wildly popular—and fashionable—started wearing a style of jewelry that had existed since the '20s, the oh-so-extra aura of playing in jewels then prompted a renaming.

It makes sense, too. Tennis players and jewelry collectors alike will attest to the fact that, of the jewels you could wear during competition, a piece like a tennis bracelet more than appeals to practicality. Why? The style is both flexible and lightweight. And we imagine it gives a glint during a serve that might distract even the most dedicated of opponents.

One thing is certain: while the exact time and date at which the name tennis bracelet was popularized can't be claimed for sure, it will almost always be tied to Chris Evert.

As the deputy digital lifestyle director at Town & Country, Roxanne Adamiyatt covers fashion, beauty, wellness, design and travel.

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This post originally appeared on Town & Country Magazine and was published August 3, 2021. This article is republished here with permission.