A Spotter’s Guide to Hair Management

by Racquet

This week, Diana Shnaider, the 19-year-old from Russia who has her head scarves sewn to size, descends upon Indian Wells like a Valkyrie, flaxen tresses locked down for battle. Her remarkable bandana-cum-babuskha got us to look up, briefly, from the desert Plexipave courts and consider the many sartorial choices players have made where headbands are concerned. Forthwith, we surmise some whys and several wherefores of tennis headband choices. We encourage you to use this guide as a metaphorical bingo card this week as the pros trot out their headgear.

To keep your flapper bangs from, well, flapping: It didn’t hurt that Suzanne Lenglen’s Ur-headband looked just like the fashion headwear of the day, adding a soupçon of style to athletic necessity and rocketing women’s tennis into popular culture, where it belongs.

To keep a truly prodigious head of hair from getting out of hand: Gustavo Kuerten’s mop was never going to submit to a mere headband, which makes us wonder whether he was wearing it for EMPHASIS.

To keep your fair skin from burning: Teenage Russian-on-the-rise Diana Shnaider, who needs sun protection but doesn’t like brims, took the lowly bandana and made it her own. Saving her scalp from certain crispiness while rocking a novel hair accessory? Goddess-level.

To flirt with hairloss: Andre Agassi has played a lot of tennis with something on his head – including a hairpiece. So it was no surprise when he mounted a comeback in a bandana and slayed in more ways than one.

To look like you’re wearing a tiara, because you should be: Seems like her ponytail was doing the yeoman’s job of hair management, but the braided white terry cloth band that sat across Monica Seles’s forehead like a crown was just the amount of extra we were all looking for in the ’80s and ’90s.

To pull back every strand because even a single flyaway might affect your unorthodox but infectious moves: We cannot confirm the brand of old-school circular hair comb that Alexandr Dolgopolov sported, but it looks an awful lot like a Scunci Stretch Hair Comb and it was a masterful use of a drugstore hair accessory.

To soak up sweat before it hits your eyes: Francis Tiafoe works hard. So does his headband. We used to wonder how absorbent, really, those terry cloth bands could possibly be. We are now believers in their power and might start using them for kitchen messes.

To match your outfit and keep your shiny locks out of your face: Let’s face it: Roger Federer’s hair is so obedient, it probably would have stayed out of his eyes just as a matter of principle. But the headband was laying down a message and we were picking it up.

To make a man-bun obsolete: with that flow, Stefanos Tsitsipas could head in the direction of a man-bun; in fact, he’s already there. But he’s keeping his options open with a headband and we support his choice.

To hide a five-head: An extra-wide headband is an awfully useful tool, when the time comes. Names withheld for respect and privacy but c’mon. WE KNOW.

Above: Guga Kuerten, Monica Seles and Diana Shnaider in epic headwear through the years.
(Getty Images)