When fans crowded around wild card mixed doubles player Harriet Dart at Wimbledon this week, many were keen to congratulate her on the victory that sent her and her partner, Jay Clarke, to the quarterfinals.
Others, however, were taken with another of her stylish on-court displays: her hairdo, which featured a tightly woven central braid that ran across the crown of her blond head into a long fishtail ponytail that poked out of the back of a white visor.
They wanted to know where she had gotten it done, and when.
“This morning, at the player’s salon,” Ms. Dart, 21, said with a grin, signing yet another chartreuse tennis ball while casually revealing one of the best-kept grooming secrets of the Grand Slam tennis circuit.
Beyond the players’ terrace and inside the Millennium building of England’s most famous tennis club — a strictly no-fan zone — sits a compact hair and nail salon with lilac painted walls, wide open windows and a hard working team of four stylists and manicurists.
Maria Di Gregorio, the salon manager, estimated that her staff will have completed 450 treatments by the end of Wimbledon. All for free, of course. Players’ perks, and all that.
“We have been so busy, with such a steady stream of players visiting us for treatments, that we have been rushed off our feet,” said Ms. Di Gregorio, who has been coming to Wimbledon to offer hair and nail services to players for 29 years. (Before a salon was built in 2000, so men could also take part, Ms. Di Gregorio worked in the ladies’ changing rooms.)
“When players are on the circuit, they have very few chances to go home and are incredibly busy, but during a Grand Slam they also find themselves with an awful lot of downtime,” Ms. DiGregorio said. “With us, they know us and see us year after year. They trust us to do their nails or give them a trim just the way they like it, and we offer a way for them to occupy that waiting time when there isn’t a lot else to do.”
A host of tennis stars known for their personal style have visited the Wimbledon salon over the years, including champions such as Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic. The clientele is split halfway between male and female players, who come to get prepped ahead of on-court appearances, publicity events and interviews between matches.
Most players ask for their usual hairstyle and aren’t looking for a drastic change, though Ms. Di Gregorio recalled a Russian player a few years ago who had one side of her hair dyed green and one side dyed purple to match the Wimbledon colors.
For men, beard and hair trims are the most popular treatments, and many players come in two or three times over the course of the tournament, Ms. Di Gregorio said. For women, she added, there has been a boom in braid requests this year, as well as deep-conditioning treatments and manicures in eye-popping varnishes that stand out against the de rigueur bright white tennis outfits.
Ms. Dart, who also had her nails painted scarlet red in the salon earlier in the week and later progressed to the semifinals of the mixed doubles alongside Mr. Clarke, was full of praise for the opportunity to unwind — briefly — in the salon.
“I first came to the salon when I played here last year, but this year it has been a particular pleasure to come in — not least as they are so good at doing treatments so quickly, and the past few days have been so exciting for me,” Ms. Dart said. “Plenty of my friends have also come in to have their hair braided before they play. If you can, why wouldn’t you? It’s about being practical as much as it is about being stylish.”
And in this, Wimbledon is not alone. It turns out the Australian, French and United States Opens all also offer a similar service to players. Next month, it will be Flushing Meadows’ turn.
Elizabeth Paton is a reporter for the Styles section, covering the fashion and luxury sectors in Europe. Before joining The Times in 2015, she was a reporter at the Financial Times both in London and New York. @LizziePaton