No other tennis tournament on the ATP and WTA tour has stricter fashion rules than most prestigious tournaments of them all. Obviously I’m talking about the tournament held at the All England Lawn Tennis & Croquet Club, or as you might know it as, Wimbledon. The clothing and equipment rules at Wimbledon are very precise when it comes to their colour code, white and nothing but white. And when I say white, I mean white, not off white or cream. The 10 publically available rules about the clothing at Wimbledon are very particular and have undoubtedly shaped the way society envisions tennis players. Despite of the strict regulations, once again there is a ton to talk about at the 132nd edition of the tournament. From sponsorship news, record-breaking matches to fashion collaborations, there is a lot to catch up on.
Let’s start with the elephant in the room, or should I say the goat in the room?
Regardless, it’s official now; Nike is no longer sponsoring Roger Federer. What came as a shock to the majority of the tennis community and all casual fans, was actually foreseeable. After 21 years with Nike, the contract between the Federer and the American sportswear giants ran out in March. Obviously Nike didn’t drop Federer due to poor performance, winning 3 out of the last 7 grand slams; it’s rumoured to be the longevity of a potential new contract that brought negotiations to a halt. In the end, Uniqlo was simply able to offer Federer something that Nike wasn’t, a long-term contract. His new contract lasts 10 years and is worth $300 million with the stipulation that even if he retires before, his contract continues with the Japanese brand. In a recent interview Federer said, ‘”I only started to look around a few weeks after the contract with Nike has ended, I believed until the end, that a new contract with Nike would materialize.” Clearly like all of us, Federer hoped and thought he’d have the Swoosh on his chest until he retires from the big stage. Notably, Federer did sport custom made Nike shoes during the tournament, as Uniqlo doesn’t offer footwear… yet.
The only thorn on this otherwise blooming rose, is that the iconic RF logo is still owned by Nike. You’ll be able to read more about Uniqlo and Roger Federer in my next blog post.
Besides Federer we didn’t see any drastic sponsorship changes or deals happening on the men’s tour, however, Alexander Zverev, or Sascha Zverev as he is better known as, has had a busy June securing himself a very interesting fashion collaberation but more on that later. What is becoming apparent, is that the sponsorship landscape on the ATP tour is becoming more and more diverse. The loss of Federer is not doing Nike a favour, as they are in danger of loosing their dominance in the tennis world. The top 30 male tennis players in the world are sponsored by 14 different clothing brands, with the top 2, Federer and Nadal traditionally representing Nike. Now, the real question is, what impact will Federer’s switch have on the industry? Potentially a chance for Adidas to make a push in this market and make it another two horse race between Adidas and Nike.
It’s been a record-breaking year at Wimbledon once again; from the young German Jan-Lennard Struff who was forced to come from 2-sets down in both his first two matches before being stopped by Federer in round three, to Anderson and Isner serving like their lives depend on it.
The young German Struff became only the third player in the Open era to win two matches at Wimbledon after loosing the first two sets of the game. Another record was set by no other than John Isner, who now participated in the two longest matches ever to be played at Wimbledon. After his 11:05 hour-long game in 2010, Isner had another epic battle in this year’s semi-final against Kevin Anderson. Notably the pair also combines for tallest seminal ever, with an average height of 6ft 9in! Anderson secured the win after 6:36 hours winning the fifth set 26:24. During the game the pair produced 102 aces! Kevin Anderson has been playing phenomenal tennis in the last year, now securing his second grand slam final and a guaranteed spot in the top five of the world. Only a question of time until the 32 year old that is currently under contract with Lotto, will have other clothing brands knocking on his door.
This year’s edition of the prestigious grass court tournament saw a lot of epic matches, including the boy’s semi-final. British youngster Jack Draper overcame his opponent in 4:24 minutes to secure himself a place in the boys final.
Another record came crumbling down by Uniqlo’s Kei Niskikori, who became the first ever Japanese player to reach the quarter final at all 4 grand slams. This incredible milestone is even more impressive considering his long injury over the last year and his fight back to the big stage.
A few weeks before Wimbledon started, world number three Sascha Zverev had some fascinating news to share on his Instagram account, he will be the face of the new Z Zegna collection. Sascha didn’t stop there when it came to his fashion dreams; he is also heavily involved in the Adidas and Palace collaboration I previously mentioned. The young German, alongside Spanish tennis star Garbiñe Muguruza, are bringing the Palace street wear brand to Wimbledon; the two of them worked together with Adidas and Place to create the collection. The Palace x Adidas collection, as it’s official called, wasn’t just sported by the two of them; a vast majority of the Adidas sponsored athletes, at the tournament wore at least one item of the 30 piece collection. Wimbledon seems like the unlikeliest of grand slams to be the setting of a revolutionary tennis outfit makeover due to its strict rules, but the collaboration was a success for Adidas, proving that the tennis world is longing for bold fashion statements. Palace hasn’t just impressed with their on court clothing but also with their talent to secure two rising stars of the sport, Sascha (21) and Garbiñe (24) will guarantee that we will see more of Palace on the court.
The Palace x Adidas collection is looking like it’s just the beginning of Adidas starting to branch out of the more traditional tennis wear and creating a hybrid between street-wear fashion and functional sports fashion. Wimbledon is barely in the books and Adidas is already starting to get their next fashion statement ready for the last grand slam of the year, the US Open. Just go check out the Adidas tennis Instagram account and you’ll see what I mean. From Thiem to Wimbledon champion Kerber you’ll find a ton of players in pink on their page. The Rule No. 9 collection has a spectacular release video and definitely makes me want to hit the court right now and truly falls in line with their slogan ‘Here to create’.
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