Sporting Style

Love Sports / Love Fashion / Hate backhand volleys

Court Test: Berlei High Performance Sports Bra

Halloween fortune teller porch ornament

NB This is NOT an accurate depiction of what happened at the Windsor Horse Show

Two years ago, a wise woman in a tent at a horse fair (OK it was a Sports Bra stall at the Royal Windsor Horse Show) divulged to me the secret behind Serena William’s support. “Aha!” I thought to myself “If this bra works for La Serena, it surely must work for us lesser ball-whackers!” Since that lightbulb moment I’ve been searching for this miraculous apparel like some sort of Sir Percival of sports bras.

At first locating it seemed easy because it was by Berlei. I own at least two of their sports bras already, so I’ll just do what I did to buy those: search online and order it. Not so fast, said the Undiesverse, nothing good comes easily and there are obstacles you need to overcome. I had discovered that although the bra was by Berlei, it was Berlei Australia, a distinct and separate company from Berlei UK. I could order it from them, but the shipping cost more than the bra, and although I really wanted that bra, I hadn’t actually lost my mind.

For a year I watched Serena on court and sighed at the remembrance of the Lost Bra of the Antipodes. And then I heard the rumours that Berlei Australia was cleaving to its parent company. The Lost Bra of the Antipodes became a Maybe Possible Bra of the United States of Berlei Bra.

Serena Williams wearing the Berlei High Performance Sports Bra in Prowl.

Serena Williams wearing the Berlei High Performance Sports Bra in Prowl. It fits her perfectly!

Suddenly an email pinged into my inbox from sports bra specialists and customer service stalwarts BoobyDoo. They were here! The Serena Bras were here! With trembling hands I clicked to the shopping page. There it was, the Berlei High Performance Sports Bra. And available in animal print? FLUORO animal print? This was a sign from the brassiere goddess. I must immediately have this bra.

There was no sizing advice for this model and remembering the long and winding road I took with BoobyDoo to find a Berlei Running Bra that (sort of) fit me, I checked with them first. Apparently it fitted true to size so I ordered my actual size and, because once bitten twice shy, my eventual Berlei size.

In a cruel twist of fate the day before the bras arrived, I wrenched my shoulder so I couldn’t move my arm backwards to fasten a bra strap properly. There they were, waiting for me. Glorious in their bright coral and taupe animal print. My tennis game was bound to improve when I wore this bra.

Two weeks later …

Both arms now mobile, with due reverence I eagerly put on the ‘actual size’ bra. No dice – it was way too small. The back size and cup size were just as small as they had been on their sister Berlei Running bra.

But I had of course, anticipated this, so I just replaced it with the ‘Berlei size’ bra. And that’s when it all went horribly wrong. The back size was OK and the cups were now big enough, but they were completely the wrong shape for me. The underwire ended up in the middle of my armpit, and was annoying enough just standing still, let alone if I were playing tennis.

Berlei High Performance Sports Bra with underwire from M&S High Impact Eco Underwired Sports Bra on top

Berlei High Performance Sports Bra with underwire from M&S High Impact Eco Underwired Sports Bra on top.

The Running Bra isn’t the perfect shape for me either, but the underwires don’t go into my armpit so far (I’ve even bent them a bit to make them less chafing.) I laid out the Berlei bra and placed an underwire taken from an old M&S sports bra in my ‘actual size’ that does fit me 100% perfectly on top. You can see how the Berlei cup shape is extremely long and shallow in comparison to the M&S cup shape. I suppose it’s just a case of horses for courses, and sadly my horses don’t run on the same track that Serena’s do.

Part of me wanted to keep one of the bras, just because it had been such an object of desire, but it just did not fit me comfortably enough. (I also noticed that they were not as well finished as my other Berlei bras; nothing major, just a bit of frayed stitching and sloppy trimming here and there.) So with a heavy heart I packaged them both up and returned them to BoobyDoo.

I never got as far as wearing the bra on a tennis court, so I can’t comment on that, but I think that if Serena’s been wearing them for nigh on a decade, we can take it as read that if they fit you properly, they’ll be an ace tennis bra.

IN BRIEF

PRO

  • court tested by the GOAT legend herself, Serena Williams
  • amazing range of exciting colours and patterns
  • fluoro animal print

CON

  • comfortable fit very dependant on your breast shape
  • WAH! It didn’t fit me!

TO BUY:

From various stores such as Berlei, John Lewis, but I always recommend BoobyDoo, so £32.30 from BoobyDoo

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