Australian tennis star, Marc Polmans, is one of the only players you’ll spot on the court wearing a hat that protects his face, neck, and ears from the sun’s damaging UV.
From a young age, Marc has worn a legionnaire hat to protect his skin and eyes on court where UV levels can be extreme from the sun above and reflection from the surfaces surrounding him.
Ahead of the 2024 AO, SunSmart Victoria spoke with Marc to learn more about why wearing a legionnaire hat matters to him.
“I’ve been wearing a hat for a very, very long time, since I was 10 and I’ve only worn it for skin protection, that’s the main purpose. My mum has had two different melanomas, she has very sensitive skin to the sun, so my parents were pretty big on me wearing a hat and they found me a legionnaires flap cap and I’ve been wearing that ever since. It feels normal to me, I’ve never played tennis without it.”
“I try to do my best to protect my skin because I play so much in the sun. I felt my neck and my ears are always so vulnerable to sun, so I try to cover up the best I can. I always wear sunscreen on my face and have sunscreen on my arms, but my neck and my ears are covered by my hat so that helps a lot.”
Off the court, Marc spends a lot of time in the sun running, walking the dog or enjoying the beach so he continues to wear his hat to protect himself.
“I do a lot of running off the court, on the field I do my sprints or fitness and always have my hat on then, and then I always have my hat when I go to the beach, and I always have my hat on when I’m walking my dog outside, so pretty much whenever I go outside.”
“I wear a hat regardless of if the sun’s out because I know that when it’s cloudy the UV is still very strong, so whether it’s sunny, windy, cold, it’s always on – apart from nighttime!”
Marc admits, people thought the hat was a little strange at first, but he’s hoping the legionnaire hat becomes a trend as baseball caps and visors leave larges parts of the face, neck and ears exposed to UV.
“It was definitely a bit strange the first couple of times I played in the AO because no one had really seen me before and wondered why is this guy playing in a strange hat. It was kind of unusual at the start, but now in the last few years I’ve been playing people have gotten used to it on me and now there’s a few people in the crowd wearing their own legionnaire cap because I think they also want to be sun smart. I’m hoping to start some sort of trend.”
“I noticed at the AO last year, a lot more people are starting to become more aware, I see more cricket hats that protect a lot of your face and neck, I see a lot of youngsters starting to wear the legionnaire caps, so I think people are starting to become more aware.”
“The sun’s UV here in Australia is so, so harsh, so we all need to do our part and wear a hat – that’s the least everyone can do. Skin cancer is a real thing so you’ve got to be smart, and I think everyone should be wearing a hat to do the very least to protect themselves from UV.”
Wearing a wide brim or legionnaire hat like Marc provides a barrier from the sun’s UV is one of the top five ways people can protect themselves, in addition to wearing clothing and sunglasses, applying sunscreen and enjoying shaded area outdoors.
Learn more about hats and other forms of sun protection