The Latest Must-have Accessory: Glasses

Martina Navratilova was often blinded without them, Billie Jean King frequently lost without her trusty pair and these days Samantha Stosur can't do without them. Yes, even tennis players sometimes need to don eyeglasses on the court.

Amir Inbar
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Amir Inbar

Martina Navratilova was often blinded without them, Billie Jean King frequently lost without her trusty pair and these days Samantha Stosur can't do without them. Yes, even tennis players sometimes need to don eyeglasses on the court.

At a tournament in Princeton, New Jersey in 1985, Navratilova suddenly realized something was wrong. "I knew I had a problem," the then-28-year-old told Sports Illustrated at the time. "I was missing more balls than I ever had in my entire life. I couldn't understand it."

A few weeks later, she appeared on the court sporting her new accessory. "It's a new world," she said then. "I'm like a child. I see blades of grass, I can see to the end of the street. Before I had glasses I didn't realize how much I was missing."

Navratilova's glasses became emblematic, but she was hardly the only hard-of-sight player on the tour. King needed them her entire career, and Arthur Ashe played with them in his later years.

Nowadays, glasses are a rarer sight on the tour. Advances in contact lens technology and the advent of LASIK has rendered the old method out-of-date.

But some tennis stars prefer the old school, particularly those who want the benefits of sunglasses as well as vision correction. Serbia's Janko Tipsarevic, currently ranked 44th in the world, made headlines on Wednesday for ousting Andy Roddick in the U.S. Open second round. But at the nexus where tennis meets sports fashion he has long been known for his iconic eyewear.

"Oakley offered me glasses with lenses that get darker or lighter in response to conditions," he said, adding, "They really help when your opponent serves at 200 kilometers an hour."

Stosur has been wearing prescription sunglasses since age 14. "It's become a habit, and now I can't live without them," says the second-place winner at this year's Roland Garros. "Glasses are just part of my equipment, like my racket."

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