The Evolution of WNBA Jerseys

min read
BetMGM Jun 16, 2021, 2:22 PM
2 Jul 1998: The Los Angeles Sparks team looks on from the court during a game against the Utah Starzz at the Great Western Forum in Inglewood, California. The Starzz defeated the Sparks 58-57. Mandatory Credit: Todd Warshaw /Allsport
(Todd Warshaw/Allsport)

For 24 years, we have watched the WNBA unfold as one of the up-and-coming professional leagues in the world. During that time, we have seen several different looks and appearances of jersey styles within the league.

The WNBA jersey design has evolved from the mystery Champion design to the untucked era of baggy fashion to the Adidas and Nike modern era. Even the top basketball betting junkie will not predict what style will come next.

Let's take a look back at the styles, colors, fabrics, and cuts of the WNBA jerseys overtime.

The Early Years: 1997-2002

30 Aug 1997: Sophia Witherspoon of the New York Liberty (left) moves the ball as Janeth Arcain of the Houston Comets chases her during the WNBA championship game at The Summit in Houston, Texas. The Comets won the game, 65-51. Mandatory Credit: (Doug Pensinger/Allsport)
(Doug Pensinger/Allsport)

In the early days of the WNBA, jerseys did not have a clear-cut designer logo on them, as Champion logos were typically on the bottom of the jersey and tucked in. During this time, the uniforms were baggy, shiny with vibrant colors, heavy, and held typical paneling down the side of the uniform.

Reebok entered the picture in 1998, as the WNBA logo was featured on both jersey and shorts to go along with the team name across the chest. 

The Untucked Era: 2003-2006

SEATTLE OCTOBER 12: Betty Lennox #22 of the Seattle Storm celebrates winning MVP in game 3 of the WNBA Finals. Lennox scored 23 in the Storm's 74-60 victory over the Connecticut Sun on October 12, 2004 at Key Arena in Seattle, Washington. (Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Otto Greule Jr/Getty Images)

By this time, some of the early years' shine had faded away. We began to see lighter fabrics that were a little more breathable and bearable for the players at that time. The biggest change was the cut of these uniforms and how the jerseys were worn. These jerseys were no longer designed to be tucked in but featured a more slim-fitting Reebok design meant to be untucked.

Until this point, the WNBA maintained that home teams wore white, while the away team wore a standard darker jersey.

The Adidas Era Begins: 2007

PHOENIX - SEPTEMBER 11: Detroit Shock players Swin Cash #32, Plenette Pierson #23 and Shannon Johnson #7 stand on the sideline against the Phoenix Mercury in Game 3 of the WNBA Finals on September 11, 2007 at US Airways Center in Phoenix, Arizona. Detroit won 88-83 to take a 2-1 lead in the series. (Photo by Domenic Centofanti/Getty Images)
(Photo by Domenic Centofanti/Getty Images)

With the start of a 10-year agreement with the WNBA, Adidas took over as the official outfitter for the league. Jerseys were tucked back in, and a slimmer design came into play, which featured a dry-fit material very popular at the time, which allowed these uniforms to be more absorbent than previous ones.

The racerback cut entered the scene. A slimmer, trimmed neck and back cut were designed to better fit the body of the players. 

The Logo Era: 2009-Present

PHOENIX - OCTOBER 01: Diana Taurasi #3 of the Phoenix Mercury in Game Two of the 2009 WNBA Finals against the Indiana Fever at US Airways Center on October 1, 2009 in Phoenix, Arizona. The Fever defeated the Mercury 94-83 to tie the series at 1-1. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)
(Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

In 2009, the Phoenix Mercury added sponsor LifeLock to their uniform. At the time, this was considered a risky move, which proved to be rewarding financially for the league. The Mercury became the first team in professional American sports to do so. Not long after, the Los Angeles Sparks followed suit replacing “Sparks” with Farmers Insurance on the front of their jerseys.

Both teams held multi-year sponsorship deals, and by 2013, half of the WNBA teams had a major jersey sponsor. As of 2021, every WNBA team has some form of sponsor on their jersey. In 2016, despite basketball odds, the WNBA became one of the first American pro leagues to eliminate the traditional home white jersey.

MINNEAPOLIS, MN - OCTOBER 2: Maya Moore #23 of the Minnesota Lynx celebrates a win against the Atlanta Dream after Game One of the 2011 WNBA Finals on October 2, 2011 at Target Center in Minneapolis, Minnesota. The Lynx defeated the Dream 88-74. (Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)
(Photo by Hannah Foslien/Getty Images)

League-wide sponsorships began in 2011 with Boost Mobile and were featured on ten of the twelve WNBA teams. From 2016-18, Verizon was a league-wide sponsor, and AT&T began its multi-year current sponsorship in 2019. Let’s take a look at some of the sponsors teams have had deals with over the years. 

Atlanta DreamBoostVerizonAT&T
Chicago SkyBoost MobileVerizonUniversity of Chicago MedicineAT&T
Connecticut SunBoost MobileFrontierMohegan Sun CasinoYale New Haven Health
Dallas WingsVerizonAmerican FidelityTexas Capital BankOsage Casino (Tulsa Era)
Indiana FeverFinish LineBoost Mobile VerizonSalesforce
Los Angeles SparksFarmers InsuranceBoost MobileVerizonEquiTrust
Las Vegas AcesMGM ResortsH-E-B (San Antonio Era)AT&T
Minnesota LynxBoost MobileVerizonMayo ClinicAT&T
New York LibertyBoost MobileFoxwood CasinosDraftKings, FanDuelHospital for Special Surgery
Phoenix MercuryLifelockBoostVerizonTalking Stick Resort
Seattle StormBingBoostVerizonSwedish Medical Center
Washington MysticsInova Health SystemsVerizonGeicoAT&T

The Nike Era: 2018-Present

FAIRFAX, VA - SEPTEMBER 12: Elena Delle Donne #11 of the Washington Mystics drives to the basket against Natasha Howard #6 of the Seattle Storm in the second half during game three of the WNBA Finals at EagleBank Arena on September 12, 2018 in Fairfax, Virginia. (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)

Nike took over as the official outfitter of the WNBA before the 2018 season with their Aeroswift design. The Washington Mystics, Atlanta Dream, and Las Vegas Aces were the only teams remaining, at the time, with their team name in its original place on the front of the jersey. However, the Verizon logo was placed under their numbers on the Mystic’s and Dream’s uniforms. The Aces featured a smaller MGM design on the left shoulder.

The Return of the Logo: 2019-Present

PALMETTO, FLORIDA - OCTOBER 04: A'ja Wilson #22 and Angel McCoughtry #35 of the Las Vegas Aces looks on during a timeout in the second half of Game 2 of the WNBA Finals against the Seattle Storm at Feld Entertainment Center on October 02, 2020 in Palmetto, Florida. (Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)
(Photo by Julio Aguilar/Getty Images)

The WNBA and Nike remained partners as the jerseys maintained their AeroSwift design for the second consecutive year. The biggest change was the return of the team logo in front and center to each jersey, which had not been the case since 2009. Corporate logos remained prevalent with numbers located on the back.

PALMETTO, FLORIDA - AUGUST 10: Detailed view of the rear of the jersey of Skylar Diggins-Smith #4 of the Phoenix Mercury stating the name of Breonna Taylor during the fourth quarter against the Dallas Wings at Feld Entertainment Center on August 10, 2020 in Palmetto, Florida. (Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)
(Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images)

Before the 2020 season, the WNBA dedicated their season to Breonna Taylor and the Say Her Name campaign, raising awareness of Black female victims of police violence. Teams had the name of Breonna Taylor on the back of their jerseys in remembrance for the entirety of the season.

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Rachel Galligan is a basketball analyst at BetMGM, HERO Sports, and Winsidr, focusing on college hoops and the WNBA. She’s a former D1 standout at Eastern Illinois University, a three-time Hall of Famer, professional basketball player, and collegiate coach. Rachel also has served as a color analyst for ESPN, OVC Sports Network, and Mountain West Network.

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Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.

Our BetMGM editors and authors are sports experts with a wealth of knowledge of the sports industry at all levels. Their coverage includes sports news, previews and predictions, fun facts, and betting.