Andy Murray has been testing the new kit for the past few months

Credit: Richard Lister

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Not since the all-conquering era of Fred Perry and his V-neck pullovers in the 1930s have Wimbledon’s stars routinely turned out in wool.

Such playing attire has become an anathema in the height of summer, with more-recent greats such as Rafa Nadal often sparking Centre Court gasps by stripping off sweat-drenched shirts during breaks.

Next week, however, the outfit worn by Sir Andy Murray, the finest British player since Perry, will mark a return of sorts to his sporting heritage – by playing in a jersey made from merino wool.

Unlike Roger Federer, who once warmed up in a cardigan as a fashion statement, the reason for Murray’s kit change is entirely modern as, counter-intuitively, the material will keep him cool.

Murray has worked with kit manufacturer Castore to create a design that, in theory, absorbs enough extra moisture to potentially allow him to play an entire match without need for a kit change.

In a sporting summer where Covid-19 safety controls are heightened, Wimbledon organisers may also be pleased to hear the brand has offered Murray an extra supply of sweatbands to help him forgo the need of a towel.

Merino wool is becoming an increasingly popular material for athletes in endurance sports.

Those who wear it claim it has an unmatched "self-cleaning" ability to absorb up to a third of its own weight in moisture.

Sudden interest extends to the High Street too, with one wool company launching a now viral dare for its customers to wear the material for 100 days  straight without washing it.

According to the makers of Murray’s kit, "no other fibre can match all of its natural benefits with exceptional breathability, thermoregulation and supreme softness next to the skin, helping players keep cool and comfortable on court".

Murray said he has been "testing the kit for a few months now and am really happy with how it feels and performs".

"I work closely with the designers on every piece and give regular feedback," he added. "For me, the technical performance is vital.  It’s also very important the kit is sustainable and I like the fact it looks and feels a bit different."

While Murray’s kit is cutting edge, his army of fans across the nation are realistic that his chances of a third title are slim on his eagerly-awaited return to the singles after four injury-blighted years.

Nadal is out, leaving Serbia’s Novak Djokovic as the overwhelming favourite to defend his Wimbledon crown and win a record-equalling 20th Grand Slam men’s title.

Murray, meanwhile, has not competed in his main event since 2017, and has undergone a series of operations on his hip and back.

Despite conservative ambitions for the tournament, he has spoken repeatedly in recent days of excitement about his return.

A spokesman for the Andy Murray Collection, the brand developed by him and Castore in collaboration with The Woolmark Company, told The Telegraph: "AMC is aware of the changes to the Wimbledon tournament introduced to comply with Covid guidelines and we’ve made a number of adjustments to accommodate this.

"Andy will play in a new kit made from merino wool, which performs extremely well during intense exercise.”

Wimbledon finalists Rene Lacoste and Jean Borotra (right) display woollen sartorial elegance in 1924  

Credit: Popperfoto

The firm added: “Alongside this, he will be given the option to wear wristbands which he can use to soak up moisture as he plays.

"We hope these kit choices will provide Andy with the comfort to allow him to stay on court longer without needing to reach for his towel, but this will of course still be available to him at all times." 

All England Club bans handling of players’ sweaty towels

The tournament was cancelled last summer because of the coronavirus pandemic but this year, as part of added sanitary and social distancing measures, the All England Club’s famous girl and ball boys will not hand towels to players during matches.

Everyone from Serena Williams to championship first timers will have their own little box-cum-laundry basket at the side of the court from where they go and get fresh towels for themselves.

Neither will ball boys and girls be asked to handle the player’s bottles or hand them cups of the famous SW19 barley water or other soft drinks.

Current champion Novak Djokovic takes a towel from a ball boy in 2014 …

Credit: Getty Images/Getty Images Europe

… but as part of the sanitary and social distancing regulations, the All England Club's famous girl and ball boys will not hand towels to players this year

Credit: Juergen Hasenkopf /Alamy Stock Photo

This year Wimbledon will be operating at 50 per cent capacity across the grounds, building to full capacity crowds of 15,000 on Centre Court for the finals weekend.

Some traditions won’t change this year however. Players will still be allowed to hug family members, friends and coaches seated in the family box if they win – raising the prospect of someone repeating Pat Cash’s famous climb over the spectator seating to reach his family when he beat Ivan Lendle in the 1987 Men’s Singles Final.

An AELTC spokeswoman said: “Players and their support group are within the Minimised Risk Environment so yes, they can hug if they choose to. Players will however be reminded of their responsibility to keep within the MRE for their own protection.”

Spectators will have to wear masks when walking around the grounds of the All England Club, but will be allowed to remove them when sitting on the banks of Henman Hill, courtside or in Aorangi Park and at the club’s various bars and refreshment areas.

The club assured fans set to flock into the grounds from Monday onwards that masks will not be needed even on those occasions when the roof of Centre Court and Number One Court are closed due to rain or late play,

“Due to the air management system and the rate at which air is refreshed within the bowl in Centre Court and Court One, there is no meaningful change between having the roof open, or closed so no, there will be no change,” said the spokeswoman.

There will be three British singles players seeded – Johanna Konta, Dan Evans and Cameron Norrie – for the first time since 1978.