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How the Tennis Bracelet Got Its Name

When you hear the term tennis bracelet, what the first thing that you think of? A sports accessory that enhances your backhand swing? Perhaps a wristband that soaks up sweat, keeping your grip dry? Or maybe, because of the brace in bracelet, you think it’s a medical support for tennis elbows?

Nope.

Tennis bracelets are jewelry. To be specific, they are bracelets with diamonds in each link or, at least, a couple of the gems somewhere around the band. Officially, they’re called diamond line bracelets, but they also have the nickname eternity bracelets. Then people started calling them tennis bracelets.

Now, why is that? Well, the story started with . . .

The Chris Evert Legend

American tennis star and former world number 1 player Christine Marie “The Ice Maiden” Evert wore a diamond line bracelet while playing. At the 1978 US Open, during a particularly long and fierce rally, the clasp on Evert’s George Bedewi–designed bracelet broke, which caused the accessory to fall midgame, leading to a time-out. Evert refused to continue playing unless officials found the bracelet.

The date of Evert’s game is important, because several reputable sites (even a .edu site) state that the accident happened in the 1987 US Open when, in fact, it was actually during the 1978 US Open.

There’s even an article that investigated the mix-up. Maybe a journalist somewhere mistyped the numbers in pursuit of a word count quota and their work got cited by other writers who weren’t so big on fact-checking. Or maybe they had dyslexia. You know how origin stories are; they get murkier per reiteration.

The Coining of an Icon

While the bracelet’s fall had no impact on the tournament and Chris Evert went on to become the champion, it was a different story on the jeweler’s arena.

The 1978 US Open was televised nationwide, and a lot of Americans witnessed Evert’s game. The midgame lull became an accidental advert for diamond line bracelets. Demand for the accessory rose, and prices skyrocketed accordingly. Chris Evert’s time-out began a craze.

Thereafter, diamond line bracelets similar to Evert’s then found a new moniker: tennis bracelets. There’s no record of who coined that term; it did not matter. Tennis bracelets went in vogue.

The Diamond Legacy

Since Evert’s game, many female tennis stars, like Maria Sharapova and Gabriela Sabatini, began wearing tennis bracelets or other forms of diamond accessories. Most notably, Serena Williams has a collection of tennis bracelets, including one with heart-shaped links, which she wears even while playing a game.

But aside from Williams, not all diamond-studded stars take their jewels on the court. Not many want their own Chris Evert moment.

Today, tennis bracelets come in many forms and different styles. If you’re planning to get your own diamond line bracelet, check out this tennis bracelet buying guide.

Diamonds Last Forever

Once upon a time, before the 1978 US Open, tennis bracelets were known as eternity bracelets, because of their enduring appeal. Though there are a few who say that diamond line bracelets are going out of style, but this era’s top tennis players don’t share their opinions. Tennis stars continue rocking the jewels on and off the court.

Sure, diamonds are expensive, but they’re a status symbol. For celebrities like Chris Evert and Serena Williams, jewelry is part of their image, and it may be possible that they’re sponsored by jewelers to wear tennis bracelets.

Regardless, tennis bracelets make great gifts, especially to athletic people, partly because of the history and also because of the accessories’ thin, lightweight style—undisruptive of one’s hand movement.


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