Peter Bodo's TennisWorld - Dressing Roger
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Dressing Roger 06/22/2009 - 4:06 PM

Weenie by Pete Bodo

Mornin'. Wimbledon is underway, right? Everyone is getting back into 14-days-in-the-tennis-hole watching mode, warming up that right-handed move to the bowl full of orange food (How can Cheetos be bad for you if they're just crunchy air?), the faster-than-Twitter skitter on the keyboard or (if you're lucky enough) the remote. . . It's time to warn the neighbors - that scream or bellow they're going to hear is not you killing the cat, it's you agonizing over the fact that Agnes Szavay just had her serve broken to go down a set and a break!

Given all this, it's really strange to recognize that for a handful of people, Wimbledon isn't just beginning - it's already over. The Wimbledon website doesn't provide scorecards (although you can find those ever valuable if not entirely convincing match stats), so I'm not entirely certain I've got this right, but judging by the scores I believe that the first player to lose at Wimbledon was Petra Cetkovska, who was beaten in an hour and seven minutes in the first match of the first day on Court 5 by Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova, 6-2, 6-2.

A moment of silence for Petra, please. Her Wimbledon of 2009 is over before it ever really began, and certainly long before it began for most players and the lion's share of tennis fans. I've often thought it must be an awful bummer to be out of Wimbledon an hour into it, and that's probably one good reason to keep doubles and mixed on the program. It affords downtrodden players the opportunity to hang around and savor the unique atmosphere at Wimbledon, and to bask in their glory as top tennis professionals in tennis's equivalent of the fur trade's legendary Rendezvous. If it weren't for doubles, all of Monday night you might be hearing the plop-plop-plop of bodies falling into the Thames from any of London's picturesque and historic bridges. Fog or no fog.

Cetkovska is a 24-year old Czech, and she's only escaped the first round at a major twice in eight attempts, although one of those occasions looks almost like a career run: She got to the fourth round at Roland Garros in 2008, which makes you wonder if those were all live bodies she elbowed out of the way - especially because her favorite shots are the volley and serve, and her surfaces of choice are hardcourt and grass. Hmmmmm. . .  you could forgive Cetkovska if she went home, looked in the mirror, and hissed, "Petra, I don't even know who you are anymore."

But while it's fun fooling around with these details, let's remember that Cetkovska is (or has been, according to ranking) one of the best 50 women tennis players. . . on the face of the earth. Which gives her a degree-of-distinction I certainly can't match, even if you can. So I'm glad she still has doubles, although it isn't what you would call major comfort - she has yet to win her first doubles match at a major.

But hey, the doubles doesn't really get going for a few more days and, given the customary Wimbledon rain delays, Petra might have locker room privileges for at least two or three more days - plenty of time to for her to take advantage of the perks offered to main draw players, and to be accosted by giggling school kids with their autograph books as she makes her way through the crowds jammed into the walkways while carrying her giant racket bag and looking tres cool in her predominantly-whites. She may also get to rub shoulders in the player's mess with her favorite player, Roger Federer, whom she likes because, in her own words, "He's a great player and a good person."

Federer may be a great player and a good person but his latest fashion statement once again suggests that he wants to be taken for some kind of a swell - which is probably not even remotely close to the truth, but if Roger can't control the message, who can?  This latest get-up is something you expect to see on a cruise ship host - check that - someone playing the part of one in a campy television show. It's distressing that Federer, who (admirably enough) claims to love "tradition" should be party to what amounts to a grotesque parody of it. Who's he trying to be, Big Bill Tilden - or some Don Ho cut loose on the greensward?

What's most surprising to me is that Roger doesn't seem to get it. I suspect that the Nike designers and marketing folks must come to him and fill him up with a bunch of hooey about what an "ambassador" he is for all things traditional and he goes all weak in the knees and capitulates to one cockamamie fashion disaster after another. The 14-time Grand Slam champ and budding fashionista turns commercial chump and, like some unsuspecting kid brother, lets his sister and her friends play dress-up with him. What next, lipstick and mom's pumps?

I bring this subject up partly because it has deja vu written all over it, and I'm not just talking about the ongoing process of Roger's dandification. Remember Andre Agassi's early years? Nike dressed Andre up in a series of Bozo the Clown outfits, driven by what probably was a similar urge to overstatement. In context, this goes by the name of client positioning and identification, and unless the client in question is very savvy, the drive to secure him in a niche - and the existence of a niche takes over the process.

In Andre's case, the niche was colorful young rebel, wreaking havoc on a game for old men and ladies prancing around in white. We saw where it led (hot pink spandex running leggings under charcoal gray shorts, among other things) The only thing Nike didn't do in its effort to capture "market share" among mall rats was pass out a free pack of cigarettes with every shirt they sold. And all that hurt Andre among those who didn't see through the ghastly commercial realities of it all.

In Roger's case, the niche is proud and unapologetic snob (or what that talented rebel caught and re-educated early enough could become, kind of like Bob Geldof). And in any event, it's a different, older and wealthier demographic. Roger seems to be standing up to be counted as a lucky, privileged Porsche-driving, mummsy-loving, polo-watching, country club dandy.

Why would anyone want to be portrayed as either of those creatures, you might be inclined to wonder, and are there enough of either type to warrant dumping so much Big Money into these campaigns? That's where it gets a little tricky, but also strategically nuanced. I noticed in the comments the other day that someone remarked that you can't even buy half the stuff you see Roger swanning around in, so what's the point?

I have to confess that I personally never went out to try to find an R/F manpurse, or a blazer with the astrological signs and laurel wreaths all over it, but doesn't it make sense that the stuff isn't available? I mean, if every Tom, Dick and Harry could go out to Target and pick up a Roger Federer Wimbledon blazer, what would that do for Roger's snob appeal, or the underlying theme of these campaigns, which is that he's Roger Federer and you're not?

On the other hand, if you really identify with The Mighty Fed, and have made your peace with the idea that you are not now, nor ever will be, be mistaken for a guy as classy and steeped in tennis tradition as Roger, you can express your fan-love and low self-esteem by scurrying off to the Nike store to buy a really nice $40 white t-shirt with the RF logo on the chest (and it's even bigger than that annoying polo player on the Ralph Lauren shirts, woo hoo!). That ought to be good enough for you, because like we said - he's Roger Federer and you're not.

To some degree, Nike must have been paying attention when its prized tennis client was hobnobbing at all those fashion shows with Anna Wintour. Nobody wears those bizarre costumes you see models parading on the catwalks either, right? They're "art", right? None of you regular folks need to buy or wear that stuff; the t-shirt or, if you must put on airs or want to get closer to the flame, $65 tennis polo ought to be just fine.

Tiger Well, I think it's great that Roger is trying to be mindful of tradition and all that, but we've passed the tipping point on that one. And while I'm not a big golf fan, it seems to me that Nike came a lot closer to getting it right with that other budding immortal, Tiger Woods. Every time I've caught a glimpse of Tiger on a golf course, he's been dressed in really appealing and completely appropriate gear - stuff that's elegant in a streamlined, sporty, functional way. How come Nike declined to dress Tiger in Bobby Jones-style knickers, with a cabbie cap? Could it be that Tiger just said, "No way!"

Roger may enjoy all this elaborate role-playing in a harmless way; down deep he probably thinks it's really cool that he can go out there looking so Brideshead Revisited and still leave opponents bleeding from the eardrums. But I think these costumes really send an awful, reactionary message, and can't help but think that Roger's being naive. It may be cool to look like an utter weenie and then kick buttski left and right, rubbing the dirt of your greatness in everyone's face. But at the end of the day, too many people are going to see Roger's kit and think: Guy's a heckuva tennis player, but he looks like such a weenie. I guess that's still what tennis is all about.

In the big picture, Roger Federer deserves to have a better image than that, and tennis certainly could be better represented as a sport that transcends all the socio-economic associations and stereotypes Federer's recent costumes conjure up. Roger, you're being used. Man up, call and ask Tiger about it.


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Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 05:31 PM

watching the blake match, at least roger doesnt dress like that, what a baggy disaster, cmon Pete, credit to Fed was being brave or adventurous, anyway?

dont career Slam winners and the disputed GOATs get a free pass here?

Posted by lois 06/22/2009 at 05:31 PM

HIGuys, I like Roger too but why does he have to go so far out-on
a limb with the cothes, is it just to be seen ? I don't like the out fit he almost looks like magician. I Really think it looks silly but if thats his thing-so be it.

Posted by Sherlock 06/22/2009 at 05:32 PM

"The simple days are behind us. Fed is in his psychadelic era now. Soon it's off to India for spiritual guidance; hopefully it'll be a while before his post-retirement rooftop match against Rafa."

He he. Very well done. :)

Posted by federerfan 06/22/2009 at 05:32 PM

Usually I dont disagree w/Andrew but this time, yes, I had to :

"And I think a part of this is Federer having fun - part is "I'm Roger Federer and you're not," and part is just "hey, why not?" If you can't express yourself after five Wimbledons and 14 GS titles, when can you?"

With a MURSE like that, I am glad YOU are fed and I am not!

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/22/2009 at 05:32 PM

This IS fun/harmless/innocent/trivial stuff to a certain extent. I won't deny that within certain parameters.

However....

To the extent that this outfit feeds/fuels/enhances/sustains/entrenches perceptions of an untoward elitism (even though Fed's personal conduct is generally not elitist), it is harmful to the sport for which Federer is an unofficial ambassador.

To the extent that this outfit affirms a Nike strategy of creating garish, loud "showpiece" clothes that are not accessible to the public in terms of both pricing and everyday use, they detract from Fed's standing in the American marketplace and its middle-class culture. The effects of these dynamics are debatable, but what's not debatable is that Nike is not making the Roger Federer brand as accessible as possible to the common man.

That's not innocent or fun, and as a lifelong critic of Nike and other multi-national corporations, I take this dimension of the debate VERY seriously.

In terms of Roger's tennis, this is a non-issue.

In terms of the perception of tennis, it might be an issue (maybe not...).

In terms of affordability and cultural appropriateness, this is DEFINITELY an issue, and with negative implications. I'm not upset at Roger, but I'm darn sure upset at Nike for being so manifestly wayward, insensitive and tone-deaf as a matter of both vision and implementation.

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 06/22/2009 at 05:33 PM

The gold murse bothers me much more than the jacket. Who's to blame here ... Roger, Mirka or Anna Wintour? Hmmm.

I think Rog is just having fun, so what can you do but shake your head and laugh. What a goof. But he looks so much sexier during practice when he's wearing a t-shirt and shorts. Less is more, ya know? Although he's pretty darn sexy in a black suit, too ...

I hope Nike puts some color into his kits soon. He's been wearing such drab stuff for quite awhile now.

Posted by VC 06/22/2009 at 05:33 PM

I don't know why Federer and Nike feel compelled to come up with something new every year. Somewhere down the line, you're going to hit a creative block and then you end up with stuff like this. Personally, I thought the cardigan was pretty cool and understated, and I wouldn't have minded them to continue with it.

On another note, none of this seems to have anything to do with being defending champion (obviously). Just a nod to tradition. Well, that's cleared up then.

Posted by rudy3 (proud Rafaelite since 2005) 06/22/2009 at 05:36 PM

"I was hooked on by Boris Becker's diving acrobatics and volleys."

Yeah, and he did them in the shortest shorts known to man...and I did notice!

Bring back the Edberg short shorts!

Posted by ms. tangerine popsicle (tangi) 06/22/2009 at 05:36 PM

Andrew!!!

You think his AO 2007 kit was a mistake? Wasn't that the baby blue polo with the black stripe paired with white shorts? I LOVED that color on him. One of my faves.

Posted by Leroy 06/22/2009 at 05:36 PM

It seems to me that Nike's goal with these costumes is to create buzz. Whether people love them or hate them is irrelevant as long as they're talking about them. The more people that take notice of the fact that Federer and Nadal wear Nike, the better. Thus if your average Joe Smith decides to buy some tennis apparel, he is more likely to purchase the brand associated with Federer and Nadal. Other brands such as Adidas seem more concerned with clothing their pros in gear that tennis players will actually wear. In that sense I think Nike attempts to appeal to a wider demographic, while Adidas appeals to "true" tennis players. Although I don't particularly care what Federer or Nadal chooses to wear, outfits such as this have make it less likely, not more likely, that I would buy Nike.

Posted by federerfan 06/22/2009 at 05:37 PM

although I will say this, the new ad from rolex with roger hitting in a black suit, was fantastic, esply the ending, like James Bond fading into the dark.

Can't imagine how a guy who liked THAT also said yes, to this travesty of a MURSE !

Posted by Maria 06/22/2009 at 05:37 PM

Pete Bodo's article takes the whole thing way too seriously... Nothing wrong with wanting to dress up and show off a bit when you step on the court. Plus, European players are more thoughtful about what they wear and how the stuff fits on them. You'll rarely (thank goodness) see on them the extralarge baggy t-shirts that American players typically wear. I don't think one should look for a deep message in this whole story, the dressing up is just being playful rather than snobbish.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 05:38 PM

i still totally pissed off I didnt get my hands on that 2008 US Open jacket, Fed gets it right at the Open...

Nike isnt selling these clothes to the public, this is just publicity, they made only a few 1000 of that Open jacket, im sure they could have sold big time but sales wasnt the point, its exclusivity, brand, etc.

on a totally new note, why arent the press scouring Tiger for totally sucking at the US Open?

can you imagine if Federer lost in the RD16, which is pretty much on par with what Tiger did?

Posted by solid35player 06/22/2009 at 05:39 PM

You know what? Man's a heck of a tennis player, but looks like such a weenie in that. On second thought, looks like a Chippendale Dancer in the vest. Or maybe, it was 40 years ago today, Sgt Pepper . . .

Posted by Nam1 06/22/2009 at 05:39 PM

i actually think Roger enjoys clothes and fashion, I mean do you see any other sports personality who likes going to fahsion shows and sitting next to Anna Wintour.

(I dont count Davis Beckham who usually likes taking his clothes off)

He is the epitome of the sensitive new-age metrosexual male, probably gets his back waxed and nails manicured and will experience sympathetic labour pains with Mirka.

Posted by KittyMac 06/22/2009 at 05:40 PM

MZ's comments and synopsis of Pete's article are interesting.

It's hard for me as a European to comment on what the US may be or not be doing to promote or popularise a sport in the US, so I won't even try!

Sports stars in Europe (especially "soccer" stars) tend to be overdressed, covered in jewellry, fast cars, planes, shockingly overdressed and expensive WAGs (wives and girlfriends) and the rest and the sport seems to be just about the major religion in Europe or the East and South America. What is the situation with other US sports e.g. baseball, football, basketball. Do people in the US prefer their sports stars to be regular "guys" or are they celebrities (the same as film, tv, rock and pop - or even reality tv stars) with the attendant lifestyles that the aspirational celebrity obsession that dominated our whole culture today? I'm just wondering. Or is it that in the US such affectation is associated with old money and that goes against the aspirational hopes of the masses? Just another thought. The women have been doing this for years - is it because Roger is a man? Or is it because you don't place importance on any "statement" a women might be making with her clothing? That's not a provacative jibe - I'm just wondering that too...

I don't like the jacket either. I said at the beginning of the previous thread as soon as he came out. It's badly put together, fussy and looks cheap - even though I can guarantee that it's not. I really do like the tracksuit top version of it though, so it's not the actual style I don't like. It is however, the look of the catwalk at the moment - so you never know - you could be wearing a high street version of it yourself!!!

Posted by Emma (insertwittymantrahere) 06/22/2009 at 05:40 PM

nam1 and CrazyForRog, Duran Duran rock the socks.

Re TMF's ensemble, I think Andrew was right on the money.

Posted by Nam1 06/22/2009 at 05:40 PM

oops, that should be David Beckham

Posted by Heidi 06/22/2009 at 05:42 PM

While I'm not a fan of this particular outfit, I don't think that it's the disaster for tennis' PR that Pete seems to. I mean, he spends the bulk of the time in shorts and a shirt, just like everyone else. And I note that Nike is sticking to Wimbledon mostly for these full outfits (just a jacket for US, right?), which to me says that some kind of thought and market research is going into it.

I also think that PR/popularity just varies by player more than clothing. Federer could wear piratas and he'd never be more popular in America than he is now, I think. OTOH, if Roddick wore something odd, I think the resulting discussion would only raise his profile, and therefore tennis' (in the US).

Posted by Heidi 06/22/2009 at 05:42 PM

While I'm not a fan of this particular outfit, I don't think that it's the disaster for tennis' PR that Pete seems to. I mean, he spends the bulk of the time in shorts and a shirt, just like everyone else. And I note that Nike is sticking to Wimbledon mostly for these full outfits (just a jacket for US, right?), which to me says that some kind of thought and market research is going into it.

I also think that PR/popularity just varies by player more than clothing. Federer could wear piratas and he'd never be more popular in America than he is now, I think. OTOH, if Roddick wore something odd, I think the resulting discussion would only raise his profile, and therefore tennis' (in the US).

Posted by evie 06/22/2009 at 05:42 PM

Where does this "affordability" argument come from? When's the last time anyone purchased a t-shirt with a logo on it (Nike, UA, Bulls, Cubs, One, Red, RF, etc.) that DIDN'T cost $40? Of course it's absurd, but it's hardly unique to the RF logo.

No, sorry, hate the clothes all you want, but they are not responsible for the weakness of tennis in this country (not having a U.S. champion in years is, as is the appalling television coverage -- we didn't see them tape-delay golf's USO today, did we?). And they do not contribute to a sense of tennis being "unaffordable." Everything in sports costs too much.


Posted by Mr.X 06/22/2009 at 05:42 PM

I dont really care all that much about what Fed is wearing. After all, he's not wearing that during the match, only when he comes out. The thing is, Pete says he does to look like a tradionalist. Well, i dont know about that. Has anybody ever appeared on a tennis court wearing something like that jacket?
I dont see Tiger wearing anything weird on the golf course. I can imagine him giving one of his ultra-sacry looks at the Nike guys when they were trying to suggest it: "Tiger, we think it would be great if wou wore...(sees Tiger's look at him)...oh, never mind. I think you look great, by the way" Maybe Fed is too much of a nice guy with this issue. Or maybe, and this is the craziest idea, he likes it.
Those Nike guys have some problem, IMO. First the PINK shirt and now, the "In the Navy" jacket.

Posted by Robert_E 06/22/2009 at 05:43 PM

I agree with the comments. I'm also a diehard Federer fan, but this outfit sends the wrong message to the general public.

Posted by sblily (Meh > Wheeeee!!!/Vamos Maymo!) 06/22/2009 at 05:45 PM

Leroy - Very good points. If you're Nike, it's about generating attention and being viewed as forward-thinking and innovative (as opposed to, say Adidas).

So from that perspective, all the fuss over Rafa's sleeves and now Fed's outfit = success.

I don't really expect them to be too concerned with the implications of the deeper message (if any) that Love Boat Fed sends to the masses. Besides, even if you accept that Fed's outfit screams "elitist dandy," Nike is providing a counterbalance with Rafa's gear, no?

Posted by Nam1 06/22/2009 at 05:48 PM

It must be the same designer, here's how I think it went down.

Nike designer: Roger, can we show you some designs for Wimbledon?

Roger: You guys gave Rafa that pink shirt and eevrybody is still talking about it even tho" I won my first RG and am now the GOAT.

Nike designer: Well, we can do something different for you too, dont worry, Roger..

Roger: Yes, it better be better than the pink shirt! And I want to carry my purse so that must be different too.

Nike designer: Will do, Roger, so shall we send the final designs to Mirka as usual?

Posted by Syd 06/22/2009 at 05:51 PM

Nam1 LOL!

Posted by † Hallelujah 06/22/2009 at 05:53 PM

I hoped he'd learned his lesson after losing last year while wearing that stupid sweater. The gold on the bag looks girly. I don't support anything that reinforces negative stereotypes about tennis - elitism, dandyism etc. It's unfortunate that Fed would allow himself to be dressed up like that.

Posted by rudy3 (proud Rafaelite since 2005) 06/22/2009 at 05:54 PM

I've always thought that Rafa's 2009 Osh Kosh Be Gosh gear was a result of the new contract that Fed signed with Nike last year :)

And the Duran Duran back up dancer get up is part of Rafa's

Posted by † Hallelujah 06/22/2009 at 05:55 PM

Nike = sweat shops. Sure it's 'pretty' gear, but that's how they do things, Fed should comment. Speak up, Fed.

Posted by Mike 06/22/2009 at 05:56 PM

Man ... putting this whole thread on scroll-o-matic.

From in depth fashion analysis (uh ... does anyone REALLY care?) to the over sensitive gay police ... a very forgettable read. Adios.

Posted by TennisFan2 06/22/2009 at 05:56 PM

I think Rafa did bring fans to tennis b/c he looks like an athelete not a rich country clubber. The sleeveless bicep look, along with his very athletic game has brought sports fans to tennis.

A tennis fan can appreciate Roger's skill and unique abilities on a tennis court. Roger makes the game look easy and effortless to a casual observer - almost boring to a sports fan who is not necessarily a tennis fan - but Rafa looks like a jock both in skill and style.

Nike nailed Rafa's look with his style of play and then took it away this year while going even more extreme with Roger's look. It's the wrong move for the sport. And I think this is the point Pete was trying to make.

If tennis wants to draw in new fans, sports fans, Rafa, Monfils, Tsonga, Nole - they are the face of new fans of the sport - not Gopher on grass.

Posted by KittyMac 06/22/2009 at 05:56 PM


I'm still not getting it - sorry if I'm being thick. I'm not sure I understand what negative message this outfit is sending out to the general public about tennis. Superstar affectations and lifestyles abound in all other sports. It's a long time since any sports star was a "man (or woman) of the people". The are millionaire celebrities like all other celebrities and behave as such.

Is it because this was on an actual tennis court?

Again I have to ask - is this because he is a man? Women have been dressing up like this on courts for a long time. Are their statements irrelevant - or are they "lite" sports stars and their actions don't constitute a statement - girls will be fluffy girls and they do this sort of stuff don't they?

I'm not trying to pick a fight here, it would be great to have a serious discussion - I'm just feeling a bit culturally confused and would love some genuine answers and insight.

Posted by Nam1 06/22/2009 at 05:58 PM

gopher on grass!!

hehehe

Posted by L.Rubin 06/22/2009 at 05:59 PM

TMF's bag looks like something you'd find at a skanky Las Vegas bar. In attempting to embody Nike's notion of "class," TMF guaranteed that the image above will end up in Webster's entry for "gaudy," "ostentatious," and "tacky." Of course, he'll laugh all the way to the bank while we chuckle and guffaw.

Posted by Carrie 06/22/2009 at 06:02 PM

* The simple days are behind us. Fed is in his psychadelic era now. Soon it's off to India for spiritual guidance; hopefully it'll be a while before his post-retirement rooftop match against Rafa.
*

Hee hee. Now- I want to see Roger in a (white) ladies fur coat at his final Wimbledon.

I do think Roger looks quite a bit like a Solid Gold dancer – dancing to one of the new wave tunes or something of that ilk. . Too bad the chairs aren’t those cream and gold cigarette looking things that the Solid gold dancers used to sit on.

The word “murse” always makes me want to giggle. It is perhaps one of the most awesome words ever.

I don’t mind at all if Roger dresses up like this. I think it is amusing- and perhaps a bit tongue in cheek. Really- between Rafa and Roger getting all this talk about their clothes – I wonder if the WTA is starting to get jealous. Serena- time to break out another cat suit or homage to the Cameroonian soccer team!

Posted by Grant 06/22/2009 at 06:03 PM

"Where does this "affordability" argument come from?"

I wish I knew. Given what Tim said about the availability of the outfit, this isn't a situation where Nike is trying to get millions of kids to run out and buy this stuff.

"How come Nike declined to dress Tiger in Bobby Jones-style knickers, with a cabbie cap?"

With what Roger actually wears when actually playing, Nike is trying to sell tennis gear. With what Tiger wears when playing, Nike is trying to sell golf gear. As such, neither wears anything particularly odd. Really, the only difference is that once a year Nike makes something goofy to wear in warmup so that they can look innovative and he gets his opportunity to do his little turn on the catwalk.

Posted by VC 06/22/2009 at 06:04 PM

"Nike nailed Rafa's look with his style of play and then took it away this year while going even more extreme with Roger's look. It's the wrong move for the sport. And I think this is the point Pete was trying to make.

If tennis wants to draw in new fans, sports fans, Rafa, Monfils, Tsonga, Nole - they are the face of new fans of the sport - not Gopher on grass."

I simply don't understand this kind of comment : do we want to draw in superficial "fans" that are attracted by what a player wears on court? How long will they remain interested anyway?

Posted by Sher 06/22/2009 at 06:05 PM

>Nobody wears those bizarre costumes you see models parading on the catwalks either, right?

er, I wish I could. It's gorgeous! ;-)

As for the picture of Tiger...THAT is considered elegant? You know, no wonder I despair at the dress code of north american men. Every day I see the baggy pants and loose shirts, and I just think...show me some eye-candy guys! What is wrong with a little shapeful clothes? I'm not talking stretch jeans, that's a different target audience, but just something that doesn't look like it's a size to big and hides all the attractive features of a man. (shoulders, waist, thighs, you name it) I want to be able to oggle, damnit.

So when I see someone wearing something that actually fits I say: hallelujah!

Posted by og 06/22/2009 at 06:08 PM


MARTINA NAVRATILOVA ASSERTS THAT GRUNTING IS A FORM OF CHEATING.

Lion's roar - 110 decibels
Seles grunt = average 105 decibels
Sharapovas shriek = average 102 decibels

Michelle de Brito = ??

Rafael Nadal = ??

did Nadal cheat to get his 6 slam titles?

Posted by Grant 06/22/2009 at 06:08 PM

"I think Rafa did bring fans to tennis b/c he looks like an athelete not a rich country clubber. The sleeveless bicep look, along with his very athletic game has brought sports fans to tennis."

Yes it totally got tennis in line with all the other sports where athletes wear muscle shirts and piratas.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 06:09 PM

exaxctly, i dont think we need look at most straight adult men as role models for how to dress, very few seem to even care or look like potato sacks in baggy shirts and even baggier pants ... there's a hint of being threatened by anyone who actually pays attention and makes others look sloppy in comparison...

and this coming from a guy who mostly does tshirts, jeans, very casual stuff, in NO way a label queen at all, i find fashion boring for the most part, but looking good isnt a sin, either

Posted by Sher 06/22/2009 at 06:10 PM

[It seems to me that Nike's goal with these costumes is to create buzz. Whether people love them or hate them is irrelevant as long as they're talking about them. The more people that take notice of the fact that Federer and Nadal wear Nike, the better. Thus if your average Joe Smith decides to buy some tennis apparel, he is more likely to purchase the brand associated with Federer and Nadal. ]

Exactly Leroy! You nailed it.

It is about promoting clothes+Federer/Nadal association in the minds of people who are thinking of buying sports clothes.

Posted by rudy3 (proud Rafaelite since 2005) 06/22/2009 at 06:10 PM

"I simply don't understand this kind of comment : do we want to draw in superficial "fans" that are attracted by what a player wears on court? How long will they remain interested anyway?"

ouch...landed an uppercut.

Sher, I'm with you...i teach in a high school. I'd give anything to see boys wearing their pants up over their rear. Don't get me started.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 06:11 PM

Tiger looks like an absolute idiot in that baggy, old man stuff, and did anyone see Blake today?

could those shorts BE any baggier and frumpier? he looks like a senior citizen for God sake, move to Sun City, James...

long live Feddie's military jacket, we are a part of a rhythm nation! lol

Posted by og 06/22/2009 at 06:11 PM


don't hype up Roger's fashion

you're only feeding more publicity for Nike to sell

those clothes at unreasonably high prices

Posted by Sher 06/22/2009 at 06:12 PM

*high fives Tim* :)

Posted by Christopher 06/22/2009 at 06:13 PM

Pete and Matt-- No offense, but I really think you're taking this too seriously. I strongly doubt that anyone out there who is not a tennis freak already is paying any real attention to this stuff and is going to decide they don't approve of tennis as a result.

But if you really want to make a pseudo-sociological argument here (and it will remain pseudo as we have zero data on how people are actually reacting to the jacket in terms of their feelings towards tennis), one could easily say that the jacket is aspirational. It doesn't say tennis is elitist (though, of course, it is), it says that ROGER is someone set apart. You too, could one day wear this bizarro outfit that no one else has, just practice your rear off and become a multiple grand slam winner!

But I still fail to see how this type of fashion is more elitist than the fashion choices of athletes in other, much more popular sports. No one calls basketball (or football, baseball, etc.) players elitist when the players show up in rap videos and at nightclubs with 100K+ of diamonds on, right?

Posted by joe_can_bike 06/22/2009 at 06:13 PM

Wimbledon reeks of tradition and formality and classiness - that's part of the charm/mystique/brand. They call the men "gentlemen" and the women "ladies," the line judges wear blazers and skirts and pip-pip, cheerio, well-played and all that. Federer's get-up is playing off that mystique, nothing more, nothing less. Trying to ascribe elitism to Federer's wardrobe is completely missing the context.

Now if you want to seriously talk about elitism & affordability, how about those NetJets ads?

Posted by Caroline 06/22/2009 at 06:14 PM

I was on Centre Court today. Just to give you some idea of the crowd response - Roger got a *huge* ovation when he came out, mostly standing and lots of oohs and aahs at the kit. It was taken very light-heartedly, especially when the jacket came off and we saw the waistcoat. Roger's demeanour reinforced the 'this is a bit of fun' feeling. In the Wimbledon context with all the officials in their Wodehouse flannels and blazers, it honestly seemed more humourful than elitist, but I can imagine that it is much easier to see it like that if one is there. He should give the bag to Victoria Beckham - it's beyond awful. Mirka looked lovely.

Oh, and I nearly forgot - he played quite well!!!

Posted by og 06/22/2009 at 06:15 PM


more substantial and central to tennis

is the issue of cheating

grunting prevents your opponent from hearing sounds of ball coming off the racket

it is a form of disguise

So Nadal the Grunter cheats all the way to 6 slam titles?

Posted by Paisley 06/22/2009 at 06:16 PM

What's your beef Pete?
You spent almost your FULL post telling us how you disliked Roger's outfit. Right, you seemed really offended by his new outfit; is it safe for me to assume that you are not a tint interested in fashion at all? IMO, no big deal, Roger doesn't sport a new outfit in every tournament, mind you.

Your post told us more of YOU than Roger's taste in fashion. If Roger's being used by Nike(willingly or not), so were you, Pete, did you realize by writing in such length, you had just helped to stir up more sparks for Nike with your post. I'd rather you talk about his tennis.......or maybe you couldn't find anything to critique, so you took a shot at his clothes?

Roger may be naive, I agree with some posters, it seems he just wants to have some fun. I first thought the vest made him look like a waiter......but it's growing on me. He looked dashing!

Btw, would you spend another column writing about Murray's new look to honour Fred Perry tomorrow?

Posted by sblily (Meh > Wheeeee!!!/Vamos Maymo!) 06/22/2009 at 06:16 PM

^^^ Good point re the NetJets ads.

Posted by rudy3 (proud Rafaelite since 2005) 06/22/2009 at 06:16 PM

This just in: Nike costume designers have requested an audience with the Pope, in order to get close looks at the papal robes as they begin designs for Roger Federer's 2010 Wimbledon outfit.

Posted by Codge 06/22/2009 at 06:18 PM

Arrgh!

I dislike this tacky ensemble in the extreme, but clearly not for the same (dandy,e elitists) reasons as Pete.

Pete, sometimes a cigar, is just that!

Projecting a bit much? Never thought tennis kit would warrant or provoke such deep analysis. LOL.

Posted by Vishal 06/22/2009 at 06:18 PM

Pete,
I must confess I am a little disturbed by the homophobic overtones in your post. As a member of a large gay community who are crazy about tennis, I find it heartening that the greatest tennis player of all time is completely unafraid of being labeled a dandy/girly-man/[insert your choice gay slur] (I do not think Roger Federer is that stupid, not to realize this might happen) and likes to express himself, whether it involves crying in public or wearing flamboyant outfits. And while I would not be caught dead in that outfit and had a hearty laugh myself when he unveiled it today, I think it is completely inappropriate to suggest that his attire projects a "wrong" image of tennis. In fact, one should be proud of our sport that allows a male player to express his feminine side without fearing the repercussions. Roger has done his bit in promoting tennis by proving his dedication and love for the sport, by bringing in millions of fans with his beautiful play, and by being a great ambassador for tennis overall. How he dresses up is, frankly, none of anyone's business.

Jimmy Connors was a complete a**hole and Johnny Mac was a whiny brat, and you seem to have no problems with them. But a genuinely nice, polite and respectful champion decides to dress up flamboyantly, and that offends you?

Posted by Ruth 06/22/2009 at 06:18 PM

As I said before, I liked the cardigan and the blazer of previous years, but I have to agree with jb (I think) who siad that Nike "jumped the shark" with this year's outfit.

"It gets people talking, it draws attention to tennis."
Yea, and I love to make people notice and talk about tennis...but not if, as I think, they're saying much of what Pete suggests that they are.

Incidentally, I'm bothered by the talk about the gay-ness or whatever of Fed's outfit since the gay men I know dress pretty much the same way that the heterosexual men I know do.

Posted by fedistennis 06/22/2009 at 06:19 PM

Are you kidding me? You'd think at the start of Wimby you would have something of more SUBSTANCE to write about. Sounds like a big case of Fed-envy to me.
I'm not even sure what I think about his suit; some angles I like it, others not so much. Who cares? Fact is, he has a model's body and can make most anything look good. But to ascribe anything more to it other than being a fun diversion for TMF is simply insane. You sound like a rejected suitor! (pun intended)

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 06:19 PM

yeah caroline, you lucky centre court attendee, you!

thanks for the reality check, from ground zero...

its all in fun and over the top but whats wrong with that? i had missed that Tiger photo earlier, ugh, ugh ugh...

and can we start writing HIS obit now, he's flamed out of two majors in a row, isnt that worthy of a Crisis Center? does he need a new coach? a shrink? the double standard re Fed's losing baffles me...

Posted by CL 06/22/2009 at 06:19 PM

Even for Tennis World, I think this raises the bar in Much Ado About Nothing.

In my opinion:

pants- meh

vest -ok, even if it makes him look sorta like a server at the car hop.

jacket - ridiculous

murse - worse, (wheeeee... I'm a poet)

But the thing that is MORE ridiculous, by a factor of about 100, than the ensemble, is the time, ink, and bandwidth devoted to it.

scrollin', scrollin' scrollin.

Posted by VC 06/22/2009 at 06:20 PM

"ouch...landed an uppercut."

I don't see how my comments could be construed as offensive. The point I've been trying to make is that true fans are likelier to be drawn in due to the various aspects of those players' game (athleticism, shotmaking etc.) than what they wear. When my mother watches tennis with me, she's more interested in who's sitting in the player's box, what the player's wearing, who he thanks after accepting the trophy, etc. Needless to say, she doesn't stick around to watch the actual tennis. So it's silly to say that the new generation of players (Nadal, Djokovic etc.) draws in fans, and the image that Federer portrays somehow destroys that.

Posted by helen 06/22/2009 at 06:28 PM

I wonder what he would wear if he had lost in let's say in the semis at roland garros??? how big would be his manpurse???

Posted by Or 06/22/2009 at 06:28 PM

Matt -

I think Pete's post misses the question entirely. Isn't Wimbledon known as this posh, expensive place where even Safin vent about the price of strawberries?

Is tennis an accessible sport? How much it cost to play it? How much are Quarters and Semi tickets in Wimbledon? How many people can buy them?

Tennis isn't a game for the 'commons', and the reason for it is definitly not Roger's outfits.

This post was harsh. I am not fan of the jacket (I think it is a bit long, and I'm not sure the shape of it flatters Roger's figure - you kinda miss his shoulders), but the vest and pants I really liked, and the shirt was a darling - but I think Pete is delving way too deep into something Roger is doing for fun and to get people talking a bit.

My 14 years old brother didn't like the murse, but thought the outfit idea was 'cool'. When I listen to kids my brother's age talk about Roger (and his friends are into tennis) no one ever bring up his outfits. They talk about how he wins on court. Some like Roger, some like Rafa - their outfits aren't even in the discussion.

Posted by Lizzie 06/22/2009 at 06:29 PM

Caroline, thanks for the first-hand report. Seeing it on TV, I thought the whole effect looked playful too. And Mirka did look lovely, I thought!

Amidst the usual knee-jerk reactions, I thought KittyMac and Christopher both had some really thoughtful things to say and questions to ask. It has always seemed to me - as an American who has spent a lot of time in various European countries - that many Americans are just really uptight about a man who displays a playful sense of fashion. And there's a lot I admire about Tiger Woods, but the "elegance" of his golf attire completely escapes me!

Posted by rudy3 (proud Rafaelite since 2005) 06/22/2009 at 06:30 PM

this is a hoot. If that picture on the top of the page was Radek Stephanek, everybody would be going nutz. When you are 2 weeks from being the all time slam winner...you get a pass.

Federer is all about class. And he is elitist. When I see his ads for Net Jet or Rolex, I think they suit him perfectly. The Gillette ads, not so much. and yes I've seen the SNF parody...but come on, nobody out does Derek Jeter.

However, I thought the guitar hero ads were fantastic, but i can't tell you what he was advertising...which is probably not what the marketing people want to hear.

the purse is stupid. i said on the other thread that it looks like a diaper bag for very rich people, which is fine, cause i doubt Mirka is registered at Target

Posted by Sonya 06/22/2009 at 06:31 PM

lol Fed gets a red card

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/22/2009 at 06:31 PM

Kitty Mac:

CC: Christopher

Kitty Mac, I can't claim to possess comprehensive knowledge about the psyche of the "typical" American sports fan, but I can say that the more a fan can feel connected to an athlete, the better. In an individual sport such as tennis, this is even more important.

Tiger Woods connects with the American audience because he's a mixture of identities and is therefore accessible (emotionally) to large cross-sections of the population. That's a more-than-minor element of his considerable appeal.

As for rap videos (one of a few points Christopher raised), a great many people in America--inner-city African Americans in particular--would view the presence of someone in rap videos as populist and not elitist. Rap is seen in some quarters as an art form which represents the gritty street experience of a major subsection of the American population; many lovers of rap culture would say that the big problem surrounding rap is the extent to which it has been commercially mainstreamed/hijacked by corporate America. Basketball is the sport of the inner-city African-American; players who immerse themselves in that way of being/appearing are elevated in prominence as long as their off-court behavior isn't inappropriate.

Outside of basketball, which is more population-specific in appeal/resonance, American sports--while obscenely infused with cash--try to connect to their fans in seemingly populist ways.

Baseball has liberalized the structure of its season and become less stuffy (not in a good way, but that's my own personal opinion) in order to lure more fans to ballparks.

Football, owing to its combinations of violence, sex and testosterone, hasn't needed ostentatious garb to bring in fans. Just a simple team jersey/shirt is good enough for Mr. or Mrs. NFL fan these days.

The American mind is a conflicted and contradictory mind, but on the outside, the appearances and tastes cultivated by American sports industries are more populist than elitist; it's the ugly underside of the business--the methods and actions behind the scenes--that is very much elitist in nature.

Posted by Kristy 06/22/2009 at 06:32 PM

KittyMac,

In the U.S., it's the style to downplay wealth -- there's a strong populism here, though I wouldn't want to try to trace the historic source. (I mean, yeah, the revolution and all, but I'm too tired to make the connection meaningful.) Pete's and Matt Z's objection is that Roger's outfit evokes a dandified elite that someone else likened amusingly to PG Wodehouse -- nice! Even though many are saying his outfit looks cheap, it also looks "fancy" and therefore expensive and clubby. Which is generally never portrayed in the States -- it's just seen as obnoxious here.

Like, if you've ever talked to someone who went to Harvard, they never, ever name the school -- they just say "where I went to college," etc. To be seen as any kind of name-dropper or elitist is anathema here.

I approve of that attitude -- I'm American after all -- but it can be dull, too. It's fun to watch people put on the dog. If only Andy R. would exert just a fraction of the effort Roger does -- he's a good looking man too, but he dresses like a kid.

Posted by Nam1 06/22/2009 at 06:37 PM

Matt Z

you are a very good writer, sir! Kudos to you for that last post!

Posted by Or 06/22/2009 at 06:38 PM

I recall that Andy Roddick was once asked about the Cardigan (2007, I think), and he answered something like "I'd never wear it, neither will anyone I know" - I promise you it didn't make him respect Roger even slightly less.

I'm pretty sure that if the reactions around him (from players and friends) were bad, he wouldn't have done it. Roger have plenty of loyal friends who would tell him the truth. I think he enjoys seeing the reactions from people to the stuff he does, whether it is his tennis or his clothes.

but I don't think many of Roger's European friends had their delicate sensibilities offended because of the outfit.

And yeah, he can pull it off, IMHO.


Posted by Grant 06/22/2009 at 06:40 PM

"In the U.S., it's the style to downplay wealth"

Except in youth culture for about the last 12 years or so.

Posted by jb... (i miss wimby live!!) 06/22/2009 at 06:43 PM

lol cl - for me its

pants - ok - (gets cold there at times, no?)

vest - no - too stiff

jacket - yes please but in charcoal?

but this is cracking me up actually, how offended some people are, and how others are just scurrying around cause they're SO excited to say something bad about fed. like little tiny terriers, ankle biters actually!

ruth, you lucky woman you - as it sounds like you're surrounded by well dressed men. (but then, i recall you're a stylin' woman, so that certainly shouldn't surprise me!)

sher. sitting ovation from over here. I love when a guy wears well cut clothes. it they're cut well, they can still allow movement and be comfy, but still look sharp. instead of being big billowy apples puffs.

if you've got a shape man, show it! (and don't tell me men don't appreciate a woman's figure when she's dressed in well fitting clothes.)

so i would love to continue to sit at the bottom of the molehill sipping GE's and throwing trailmix at those labouring up the hill, but i need to go to dinner!

have fun - and play nice, ok?

Posted by Gareth Lennox 06/22/2009 at 06:44 PM

Jesus Pete, relax. While reading your diatribe, I couldn't decide whether you were 1) having a mental breakdown 2) taking inverted snobbishness to its very extremity or 3) were being facetious. Sure Roger looks like some sort of dandy, effete, Captain Birdseye impersonator sans the white beard, but what freakin difference does it make? Whether a guy is a fashion disaster or not, is it not the style and effectiveness of his tennis that are of singularly importance. Old Del Boy looked like some sort of half digested liquorish allsort in Paris but anyone turned off by that during his semi-final display in Paris, where for most of the first 3 sets, he played the most glorious tennis is never going to be a tennis fan anyway. I think the same applies to our own cruise liner host in waiting. Stick to getting predictions hopelessly wrong and writing insightful and very enjoyable pieces relating to the tennis. The great irony of your piece is that it is only people who are not genuine tennis fans, those more influenced in the gossip and superfluous nonsense that accompanies the tour, that would give a damn anyway. Keep it within the tram lines... that will keep the fans coming back for more!

PS. Fed's outfit next year should be white fishnets with matching knickers and nipples tassles, one with an elabotate and dandy R and the other (can you guess?, yes a F!

Peace and love, Ringo style.

Gareth

Posted by TennisFan2 06/22/2009 at 06:45 PM

Matt Z well said: "Tiger Woods connects with the American audience because he's a mixture of identities and is therefore accessible (emotionally) to large cross-sections of the population. That's a more-than-minor element of his considerable appeal"

Rafa also appeals to many American sports fans b/c he does not appear elitist.

And yes, Roger can absolutely pull off the ludicrous attire yearn in and year out b/c he has the game to back it up - it still doesn't mean it's good for tennis.

Posted by waylandboy 06/22/2009 at 06:45 PM

This seems to run a bit contrary to the "Sprezzatura" piece where it's OK to be a bit of a dandy! I don't have a problem with Roger or Andre as you could do a lot worse than their success.

Posted by roadrunnerz 06/22/2009 at 06:48 PM

Whoa...way deep analysis on...an outfit!

It's Wimbledon! It's Fed!

It's also one of the things I love about Fed (and Rafa too) is that he's just that comfortable in his skin that he can totally pull this off. Plus, I can't think of two guys that are less likely to market tennis in a negative way than Fed or Rafa.

Much as the over-the top golden shiny-ness of the bag makes me want to whip out my sunglasses...I don't doubt for a minute that Fed actually likes the entire outfit.

Posted by Pspace (Lestat de SW19) 06/22/2009 at 06:49 PM

I love that golf is now less elitist than tennis. Excusez moi while I ROFL.

Posted by jb... (i miss wimby live!!) 06/22/2009 at 06:52 PM

er one last on this: In the U.S., it's the style to downplay wealth . . .

think that's prolly gone the way of the buffalo....

Posted by pointy head 06/22/2009 at 06:52 PM

ditto jimbo...stop projecting your so called "fashion sense" onto Fed....

Posted by Samm 06/22/2009 at 06:53 PM

Excellent Post Pete,

Frankly he looks utterly ridiculous, He's a strange, strange man. Too much estrogen in his coffee I think. Oh, and as 'Runner Up' last year, it's even more ridiculous. And, as far as the locker room is concerned, I'm sure as soon as he left, everyone burst out laughing. Oddball.

Posted by Hart 06/22/2009 at 06:56 PM

>>>er one last on this: In the U.S., it's the style to downplay wealth . . .

think that's prolly gone the way of the buffalo....

Heh. Someone forgot to mention this the the Budget car rental near where I work. Where you can rent an electric green Lamborghini. :)

Posted by Kristy 06/22/2009 at 06:56 PM

Are people not downplaying wealth anymore? Ha, I'm so poor I probably don't even get near places where that isn't true.

I mean, relatively. I am typing in a cyber cafe eating an $8 sandwich.

Posted by TennisFan2 06/22/2009 at 06:58 PM

"Roger?"

"Yes?"

"Serena called, she wants her purse back and she said if she finds any more "RF" logos on her stuff she's going to file charges."

Posted by tennisconnected 06/22/2009 at 07:00 PM

Nice article Pete. But I have to disagree. Federer's outfit is trendy and eye-catching. Tennis needs that sort of press, good or bad. And I do not think Nike pushed anything down his throat either. Federer has say in what he wears.

Golf is a different sport all together. It is much more popular than tennis, and the last time I check the plaid pants of Jasper Parnevik were a touch loud for golf? At any rate I think Fed looks good in his new dods, and his game will speak for itself once again.

Posted by KittyMac 06/22/2009 at 07:03 PM

Matt and Kristy,

Many thanks for your comments - they are very interesting and answer some of my questions and do explain some of Pete's concerns about the marketing of tennis in the US.

My only retort then would be - this is not the US. The US is a small section of planet earth. Sadly and maybe this is what has prompted Pete's concerns - it is not a major support base for tennis in the world today.

The East and South America are the main areas for growth. Outfits like this are loved in the Far East. Maybe that is the target group?

Roger is a European sports star appearing in a European tournament - in Europe sports stars do not have such pressure to be "men of the people". Maybe they should and have gone to far in their "celebrity" status and too detached from reality, but this is something that seems to be expected from many fans in a celebrity obsessed culture.

All this I admit, does nothing to alleviate Pete's concerns about the falling popularity of tennis as a sport in the US. Roger does not appear on a court in the US in this manner and the issues that Pete brought up are probably why. Please please please don't take this as a dig - it's not - it's just a niggling concern --- why should European, South American, Far Eastern tennis stars, tournaments, fans and what have you - change their behaviour, affectations and traditions to suit the viewing public in the US, when they are not that interested anyway? Would they way that tennis is presented everywhere else in the world change the perception of tennis by the general public in the US? Or is the whole thing something inherent in US culture itself? Should Roger as a tennis ambassador be any more concerned about the development of tennis as a fan and participative sport in the US than say in China, Japan or India where the cultural perceptions of sport are quite different?

I'm just throwing out ideas - I'm not getting at any group in particilar, or think that I have any access to any idea that is "right". I also want to thank Pete for writing a piece that has encouraged a higher level of debate (whether any of us agree with eachother or not!!). It makes a welcome change from fan wars.

PS - I don't like the jacket either - for my own personal issues - but will defend his right to wear it. People's view of Nike is another matter.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 07:05 PM

ah can actually watch Rogie's whole match, as ESPN missed most of the second set, and I kinda like martina nav and some other peeps giving their 2 cents...

Posted by MamaG 06/22/2009 at 07:08 PM

Roger looks silly and a bit nerdy. I wish he would "just say no" to Nike and wear "normal" clothes. Once he strips out of the extra, he looks fine and I think he should just keep it simple instead of pretentious.

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/22/2009 at 07:09 PM

Or -

(CC: KittyMac)

You make some valid and very understandable points.

The particularly tricky element of this discussion is that it tackles a number of emotional, personal, socioeconomic, and cultural tension points all at once: clothing, finance, class status, sexuality, celebrity, the relationship between athlete and fan base, and the relationship between a corporate image and the health of a given sport at a grassroots level.

The ways in which an American audience will react to this post will be different from the ways in which a European or Israeli audience will.

The ways in which a Wimbledon ticket-buyer or tournament-goer (or resident of England) responds to this post would differ from a more globally-minded tennis fan.

The ways in which a tennis diehard would react to this piece would differ from the manner in which a casual sports fan (one not too attached to tennis) would greet Pete's thoughts and observations.

One point that's worth considering, as we try to sort out this bewildering array of considerations and complications, is that Wimbledon is an important event not just in relationship to the players, participants, and on-site gatherings of fans and media; it's important around the planet as the most significant tournament in all of tennis, played at the time of year when there are comparatively fewer competitors for viewing attention on television.

Except for years in which the World Cup soccer tournament is played, Wimbledon commands an unusually large share of global TV interest, especially in America.

The United States' sports calendar is pretty busy for most of the year; the two relatively dull/flat periods on the U.S. calendar come in February, and then from late June through August. The basketball and hockey playoffs, U.S. Open golf, the NBA Draft, and the Triple Crown in horse racing all take place in June. Until the start of (North American) football at the very end of August, the only major team sport played in America is baseball, which doesn't become really exciting until late September.

Wimbledon--as Pete has himself said in the past--is important in America on commercial, cultural and social levels because it begins the two-month period in which tennis gets a bigger dose of publicity in major American media outlets. Wimbledon gets extended coverage not just due to its tradition and stature, but because the NBA Finals have ended and Tiger Woods isn't playing a big tournament. The U.S. Open is big because of the home-country angle and the New York media machine, but as you and other non-American TWibe members are reminded every September, the true king in American sports is professional (North American) football, which enjoys first dibs in every TV-related programming competition, and---as a result---always pushes back the start time of the U.S. Open men's singles final by 30-40 minutes, compared to the French and Wimby.

(The French and Wimby usually start their singles finals at 13 minutes past the hour; the U.S. Open men's final normally starts at 45-50 minutes past the hour.)

So when Roger Federer, unofficial but powerful "global ambassador for tennis," steps onto Centre Court Wimbledon, he's not just responsible for how the local Brits will react, or how the British media will react, or how the fans at Centre Court will react; he's responsible for how the global audience, and especially the American public (given Nike's centrality as a PR and marketing force in relationship to said public, during a fertile time for tennis in the American media spotlight), will respond to his publicly-displayed image.

If Fed wants to grow the sport and cultivate positive perceptions surrounding it, he needs to be more conscious of the messages his clothing is spreading to non-tennis fans who could potentially be won over, but need a little push.

Pete, as the author of this piece, does need to provide some data or anecdotal evidence to support the notion that Fed's outfits are hurting (or will hurt, or have hurt) tennis's image, but when Pete talks about the importance of being accessible and reachable to the common (wo)man and the average sports fan, his point is almost unassailable.

A lot of what's being said by many people on this thread is perfectly reasonable and intellectually honest. The difficult part is to link one's statements to certain issues, pressure points, and hoped-for outcomes.

The reasons why Pete said the things he said are not the same reasons why other people are criticizing Pete. There is, at least to some extent, a multi-tiered structure of debate on this issue, and it appears that Pete and his critics are speaking on those different tiers, with different intentions/goals/purposes in mind. Neither side is really "wrong" in this debate; the challenge is to enable Pete's words to be seen in a certain macro-level context related to larger considerations of global marketing, image-bearing, and economic accessibility. Because America is the birthplace of Nike and the heart of corporate behemoths in general, there is a certain degree of responsibility attached to the decisions Roger Federer, Inc. makes on a daily (yearly) basis. I don't think Pete's ripping Fed so much as he's trying to shake Fed loose from a dazed form of naivete.

When you try to shake someone loose from a certain mindset/condition, vigor is going to be part of the equation. Hence, Pete needed to be harsh, because you command attention with a sharper tone or a stronger line of argumentation.

I hope this helped to clarify things. I'm not in full agreement with Pete--I want more info and anecdotal data from him--but I feel that I have a good sense of where he's coming from. Whether you like Pete's article or not, his post has laid the groundwork for a very important and potentially beneficial discussion about commerce, marketing, socioeconomic equality, and tennis, all wrapped together in this Federer clothing story.

Posted by TennisFan2 06/22/2009 at 07:10 PM

KittyMac - good point about the European perspective. I do agree with you on this.

I do think however that as Pete is an American writer we should cut him some slack. Also, he specifically chose Tiger Woods as an example of a champion in an international sport. He didn't use Kobe or LeBron or even Tom Brady (although Giselle is making him look Eurochic these days) atheletes in more traditional American sports as a comparison to Roger.

Posted by TripleF-FedFanForever (Sergeant Pepper Fed's Lonely Hearts Club) 06/22/2009 at 07:10 PM

I knew it. I knew it. I knew it.

Devil : That entire ensemble is a bit too much. A little bit. Just a little bit. [Devil's speaks and acts like Di Niro in "Goodfellas"]

Angel: It is fun. Fed knows the importance of Wimbledon. May be he dresses up for it - literally. Like going to a wedding or a big interview with new clothes and shoes. May be, Fed is truly enjoying these games.

Devil: Still in Di Niro's "Goodfellas" style: A bit too much. Just a little bit. Just a little bit.

Angel: As long as Fed is happy playing these 'games' with the public it's okay as it doesn't last more than 10 minutes. The Jacket actually lasts 2 minutes. It's all Tennis afterwards right?

Devil: It don't matter. It don't matter. Nah. It don't matter. *Gesticulates wildly*

Posted by Andrew Friedman 06/22/2009 at 07:12 PM

Pete - Somebody had to say it! I could scarcely believe my eyes this morning when he came out in that jacket, and then when I saw him warming up in the vest... holy moly. I don't know about the larger implications or lack thereof, I just know that's one ridiculous get-up. But we should all get used to it, because we're gonna be seeing it right up until two Sundays from now....

Posted by TennisFan2 06/22/2009 at 07:12 PM

Wow Matt - just Wow! You go!

Posted by Stushness 06/22/2009 at 07:13 PM

I was pretty shocked when I saw Roger come out in this outfit, and then take it further by warming up in a tuxedo vest. I mean what on earth is going on here? I've been watching tennis for thirty years and these costume shows Federer puts on at Wimbledon are one of the weirdest developments in the men's game during all that time. When did Wimbledon become a pageant?

Posted by Gavin 06/22/2009 at 07:14 PM

Amen, Pete. The Euro-weenie attire has got to go. TMF's quickly entering into Monty Python "Upper-Class-Twit-of-the-Year" territory. Where are his pals Pistol P and Tiger Woods when his wardrobe is obviously crying out for help? I don't think Sampras minds seeing his record fall to Roger, but sans man purse (TMF now TMMP - The Mighty Man Purse?). From what I've read about Woods' sense of humor, he may well have egged Fed on and is now having one big laugh in front of his TV.

Posted by Cosi 06/22/2009 at 07:14 PM

Nam, I wasn't trying to insult anyone with my comment or "cough cough" I think maybe you didn't get it..... (cough cough)

Posted by Kristy 06/22/2009 at 07:21 PM

Thanks KittyMac, I find your reactions very interesting. I guess I'd say that Pete isn't suggesting Roger follow an American style as much as he's saying in an American way that Roger is over the top with this look. We all have our cultural sensitivities... If an American player wore an outfit that evoked some unfair practice in Europe, I'd understand if it drew criticism. ("Unfair practice" referring to the exclusive nature of country clubs in this country.)

All this should still be on a pretty light level -- I agree with other posters that Roger is having fun with this fashion stuff and has no wish to make any kind of serious statement, so we shouldn't get too serious about it either.

Posted by djatns 06/22/2009 at 07:21 PM

caroline's description of the scene on center court with linespeople and others in period clothing sounded like he fit right in.

gosh remember venus and her tank top and white short shorts(where was her head?)

i saw shreakapova had a stylish jacket and serena had a rainjacket that looked like it was from the 50's. we can only wait to see what venus wears tomorrow!!!

People buy nike galore so they do whatever they want!! don't like it don't buy nike!!

its about tennis all day everyday for two weeks!!

thanks goodness for espn 360 so you don't have to hear the chatter on espn.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 07:21 PM

i think this is much about Americans clutching their pearls, no one in Europe gives a hoot about stuff like this, men arent put in such rigid confines when it comes to looks..

i still say the darn wimby grass and balls are so slow its unreal, its like theyre hitting basketballs out there, just like McEnroe said, Paris seemed faster

Posted by Christopher 06/22/2009 at 07:22 PM

"As for rap videos (one of a few points Christopher raised), a great many people in America--inner-city African Americans in particular--would view the presence of someone in rap videos as populist and not elitist. Rap is seen in some quarters as an art form which represents the gritty street experience of a major subsection of the American population"

Matt-- Yes, but I was talking about what they were wearing in the videos, not the fact of being in the videos. But again, this furthers my point that it's not about the clothes. For the last decade most even vaguely mainstream rap had focused a lot (though not exclusively, of course), on money, cars, women, and clothes. That it is still scene as populist shows that it's not about that aspect of the content.

Tiger Woods, contrary to what was assumed would happen, had NOT brought more African Americans into golf. Golf is as elitist as it's ever been. It would be that way no matter what Tiger is wearing.

Posted by Cosi 06/22/2009 at 07:22 PM

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 06/22/2009 @ 5:25 PM

I would LOVE to see Roger wearing those obscenely short shorts that Edberg, Becker et al used to wear ! But I think he'd need to shave his hairy thighs first."

No Crazy for Rog, Roger should keep those hairy legs if he wears the short shorts, that way Pete can feel relieved that Roger's male gender characteristics and virile masculinity are on full display.

;-)

Posted by yawn 06/22/2009 at 07:24 PM

Was this really worth an article that long? My favourite part was probably the way Tiger was mentioned as an example of functional elegance, only to have the article illustrated with him wearing the most unflatteringly baggy shirt and trouser combination imaginable.

Really the only issue I'd have with what Federer came out on court in would be the bag, and only then for the garish quantities of gold. It's all rather fun, the outfit is well cut and well made, and whilst it was a more modern look it helps maintain Rogers classy sportsman image. I particularly liked the waistcoat actually, that was a nice touch when he warmed up in it.

The buzz around the outfit as a whole is obviously desired, one way or another people have an opinion to share, and it's evident from the amount of articles and discussion it's generated that they are sharing them.

...Let's just get back to writing about the tennis, there were some entertaining moments out there today aside from the clothes.

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