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 Tamara 06/22/2009 at 07:25 PM

I'm interedted who were the idiots in locker room that told him he looks nice,great etc ,This is the case of king is naked we just waiting some little child to yell king is naked.
And these Fed fans who keeps on saying that he look good in anything shold buy new glasses because this that you wearing are not good for you FOR GOD SAKE HE IS NOT SAFIN

Posted by Nam1 06/22/2009 at 07:26 PM

Cosi,

I think you were being tongue in cheek about gay men with the 'cough, cough" but maybe I did not understand you.

I think you have to be careful about intent vs.impact in communication.

Posted by Cosi 06/22/2009 at 07:26 PM

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. "

Matt, hopefullyt I'm not misunderstanding you, but are you saying Roger should never wear anything fancy, nor should Nike never make something fancy becuase nbot everybody can afford it? well, there are alot of things I can't afford but that doesn't mean I think they shouldn't be made or worn by someone who can afford them, the manufacture of expensive items of all types keep some people in JOBS too.... And what is culturally inappropriate about Roger's clothes to you, that one I can't figure out.

Posted by CL 06/22/2009 at 07:27 PM

Matt Z

CC: Twibe

- in my experience, most of the people who read and post at TW read and understand English pretty well. IMO, it is an insult, of sorts, for you to 'interpret' what Pete wrote....an insult both to his writing skills and our reading skills. I think what Pete wrote is a load of hooey, but I have no trouble understanding it.

Posted by CL 06/22/2009 at 07:28 PM

"tiny terriers, in the wine, tiny terriers in the wine..."

Posted by Veruca Salt (360) 06/22/2009 at 07:29 PM

i just had to come from self imposed exile in order to laugh at that picture.

*turns around and walks out to the theme to "the love boat"*

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 06/22/2009 at 07:31 PM

Well, Matt Z ... isn't that why Fed hired IMG? Isn't it THEIR responsibility to advise him on the political and social ramifications on his sport, with the image he is choosing to portray with his fashion choices? Could it be that IMG, in tandem with Nike, is making a conscious choice of how Federer should be packaged, marketed and sold? In the words of Tony Godsick, Fed's IMG Agent (I'm paraphrasing) - "I don't believe Roger can get any bigger here in America. We've hit a wall with his marketing, in the States."

That being the case, maybe they don't give a hoot that Americans consider the way Fed dresses and accessories as he did here in Wimby to be er ... less than masculine ! He's playing the most prestigious tennis tournament in London, not in the U.S. And Nike is using the Federer brand to target the European market. Even if Fed dressed like Sampras, are you telling me that the average American who watches baseball, football and basketball, will wake up early morning to watch Federer play? Some of us tennis fanatics and Fed fans such as the ones who post here will do that, but we are the minority, not the majority. Most Americans don't care about tennis, because the dominant players in the sport today are not American. That's a fact !

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 07:34 PM

i think a lot of americans just want Fed to wear baggy collared shirts, backwards baseball hats and NBA style shorts, and say 'sup' when he walks on court..

Posted by Holly 06/22/2009 at 07:36 PM

I think Fed looks like a fool. He's playing dress up..? I think he wants to present himself as the snob...he does it well. That bag? ewwwww

I think the bigger issue is NIKE...look what they did to Rafa this year! Even if Rafa wanted to change what he wears...the colors of some of those outfits he wore...good god.

I hate NIKE.

Posted by Grant 06/22/2009 at 07:38 PM

"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."

Yes, in the sense that saying anything can lead to a discussion about something tangentially related to it, I guess that's true.

Posted by Kwon 06/22/2009 at 07:38 PM

Though I am a fan of Federer, I feel ashamed to be one whenever he puts on such ridiculous craps. I just want him to look like a hard worker that is him as a tennis player. No gold, either, of course.

Posted by Or 06/22/2009 at 07:40 PM

First of all, I'd like to say something I haven't said above.

I started watching Golf and following Tiger because of his friendship with Roger. Tiger is the big ticket in the US, but Israelis don't really do golf, and the only reason I was even remotely interested is because he was linked with Roger. I think Nike probably thought it would work the other way around - in my case, it wasn't.

Pete was hailing Tiger's outfits, and I have to honestly say, that I often look at him and wonder what the heck is he wearing half the time, it seem so drab, unimaginative and boring to me. Not different from watching Roddick, who I love a lot - I watch his on court outfit and wondering whether he could put on something a tad more interesting and flattering.

So, that's about that.

As far as Roger, I think he's, as global ambassador of the sport, is advancing so many good things, none of them are being discussed on this site as positives.

First of all, he's not afraid to cry. He's dating the same woman since his teens, he's dating a real woman (how many rich athletes in his position are dating anything but a total babe? I can't even recall one). Those stuff aren't a marketing ploy, that's who he is. I think that's a nice example for young boys looking for a role model, but maybe Pete disagrees.

What Pete is actually saying, that Roger isn't something a red-blooded American male would like to tune into when he can watch baseball, football, hockey or golf.

a) I haven't seen any evidence of that in the USA last year, not at all.

b) I think that Roger would have to change too many things about himself to be America favorite, clothes is the least of them, and isn't being true to oneself something you'd like your athletes to be?

I don't think Roger is forced into the Nike oufits, I think he enjoys the outfits, picking them and watching the reactions. Some men care about that, maybe we should start accepting the fact Roger is one of those man.

(And one last note, when marketing for the American public - maybe women and yeah, the gay community, who - and It's a guess, based on what I've seen from the message boards - follow tennis avidly, and many of them are Roger's fans - isn't a bad part of the public to market for?)

Posted by CL 06/22/2009 at 07:41 PM

****hands Grant trail mix and a GE****

Posted by jcrev 06/22/2009 at 07:42 PM

Roger wears what he wants, who cares, this isn't an alien nation that has a uniform and matching boots; sould everyone have approved dress for everything on the court he both looks and plays his part for christ sake

Posted by Nam1 06/22/2009 at 07:42 PM

I do get Pete's point about the messaging about the sport of Tennis.

I live in a typical Canadian suburb and we have public tennis courts and basketball courts, softball fields, soccer fields all around the neighbourhood. On a nice summer evening like today, if you were to take a walk, all these sports are being played enthusiastically by kids and teens, supported by cheering parents EXCEPT TENNIS. The tennis courts (free BTW) are lying empty.

Of course, this is of concern to people who care about tennis and want to see the sport become more popular, particularly with the yopunger set.

Posted by Jbradhunter 06/22/2009 at 07:42 PM

Well- my beef with the ensemble goes back to last year as well

gold and white look terrible together. Silver would look much better... Or white gold

Posted by CL 06/22/2009 at 07:42 PM

***trail mix and a GE for Or as well****

Posted by Grant 06/22/2009 at 07:43 PM

"- in my experience, most of the people who read and post at TW read and understand English pretty well. IMO, it is an insult, of sorts, for you to 'interpret' what Pete wrote....an insult both to his writing skills and our reading skills. I think what Pete wrote is a load of hooey, but I have no trouble understanding it."

What you have just written lays the groundwork for an important discussion about language, identity politics, class consciousness and late period postmodernism vis a vis dominant paradigms.

Posted by Rosangel 06/22/2009 at 07:44 PM

I'm with those that think the whole getup looks ridiculous. I've had few reasons to either particularly like or particularly dislike most of his outfits over the years - he's usually pretty well turned out without being over the top, and he has the kind of frame that can wear well-cut clothing well. Meanwhile I am a fan of Wimbledon's traditional tennis whites, and I quite like it when players have simple outfits, with maybe just a few personal touches and a little bit of flair in the design. I quite liked Sharapova's "swan" dress a couple of years ago, for example.

The thing is, RF is someone who doesn't need to dress up in order to be noticed - IMO he does more for tennis by letting his racquet do the talking. Nothing more is needed from him on that score. To me he's at his best when he's just inhabiting the role of a tennis player - a great one, for sure, but no outlandish outfit is needed for most people to see how talented he is - the other stuff is an unnecessary "look at ME" distraction. People are looking anyway!

To me the pure brilliance of "full-flight Federer" is by far the best thing about him in terms of his contribution to the sport, and he's rightly honoured for all that he's capable of on the court. In many ways I wish it were easier to discuss him at that "pure" level, without Nike's "image" and the neverending GOAT debate getting in the way.

Posted by Nam1 06/22/2009 at 07:45 PM

CL, what is GE?

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 07:45 PM

most gay men would cringe at that jacket, in my opinion, it sure isnt a gay thing, its just a wacky warm up choice, thats gone in a few seconds after he walks on court...

anyone have a problem with the on court attire, which he wears for hours at a time? when Rafa wore pink, he wore pink, and we saw it the whole tournament... this is just a few minutes and its tucked away

but talk about deja vu@ we've had this discussion every year like clockwork, and here it is, again!

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 06/22/2009 at 07:45 PM

http://www.sportsbusinessjournal.com/article/57885

-------------------------------------
With tennis a secondary sport in the United States, Nike is clearly wrapping up Federer for international exposure. And while Nike could add a Federer line to its sneaker and clothing offerings, tennis is not a big seller, so the deal is seen as more about branding than moving shoes and shirts.

“In the U.S., probably less than 2 percent of athletic footwear sales are tennis,” said John Shanley, an analyst with Susquehanna International, who noted that K-Swiss is a bigger tennis brand in America than Nike. “[Tennis] does get a lot of publicity, a lot of mention in news articles, and a lot more people watch the sport than participate in it. Branding is probably a pretty good part of the deal, particularly in Nike’s European sector, where [tennis] is much more important.”

Posted by CL 06/22/2009 at 07:46 PM

I just tripped on a dominant paradigm....again. ***OUCH***

***applies GE and trail mix****

psst...maybe if we stopped TALKING about his ridiculous outfits he wouldn't wear them...really.. I just have this image of Fed giggling like a maniac as the tabloids and blogs roll in and on.

Posted by Ruth 06/22/2009 at 07:47 PM

I've got to agree with yawn about the slacks Tiger is wearing in the picture selected for this post. There must be hundreds of pictures of Tiger in outfits that are more attractive than that one and still make the point of the post. :)

Posted by CL 06/22/2009 at 07:48 PM

Man 1 - basically it is an alcohol based libation of choice. Check the Tennis World FAQs on the right hand side of the page for more.

Posted by Kristy 06/22/2009 at 07:48 PM

Or,

Big ups! Very well said.

Posted by Or 06/22/2009 at 07:50 PM

Tim -

Well, the gay community also vary, of course.

I got a call from a (gay) friend asking me if I've seen the outfit, Like me he floved the vest and didn't care for the jacket.

But it generated interest. And as Roddick said (Andrew quotes in an earlier thread) - anything that make people talk about tennis is okay.

Posted by VC 06/22/2009 at 07:50 PM

"To me the pure brilliance of "full-flight Federer" is by far the best thing about him in terms of his contribution to the sport, and he's rightly honoured for all that he's capable of on the court."

Well said, that's what tennis fans (and fans of Federer) really care about. Great post.

Posted by Christopher 06/22/2009 at 07:51 PM

Rosangel-- Word. On every word.

Posted by sblily (Meh > Wheeeee!!!/Vamos Maymo!) 06/22/2009 at 07:52 PM

“In the U.S., probably less than 2 percent of athletic footwear sales are tennis,” said John Shanley, an analyst with Susquehanna International, who noted that K-Swiss is a bigger tennis brand in America than Nike.
~~~~~

*raises left eyebrow*

Hmmmm... Doesn't Mardy Fish wear K Swiss?

So in the U.S., clothes hamper chic and anklets > cardigans and piratas.

Got it.

Posted by KittyMac 06/22/2009 at 07:54 PM

Matt,

Great post - thank you for your response.

I don't have your literary specialism and intellectual expertise so please excuse the clumsiness of my arguments in comparison to yours - I'm just a regular poster.

I mentioned in my post that I fully understand Pete's concerns for the falling popularity of tennis in the US (and please no post of mine is a personal attack on Pete - I love his more contentious blogs, particularly if they result in discussions on a higher level than fan wars). I just had some concerns and questions to increase my understanding particularly as a foreigner to US culture. Posters answers have helped and confused as always in situations like this. Sometimes deep discussions that stir up debate also stir up the waters which become more cloudy than before.

I totally agree with your statement about a player of Federer's status standing up at a tournament like Wimbledon he sends out a message world wide. That was actually what I was saying. Sorry if my words didn't convey that properly. I don't think for one minute that the message is to the Brits alone. But neither is it to the US alone. It's to planet earth - well those who are interested in tennis or even sport. The US is only one section of planet earth. The real growth areas for sports related products are in the Far East. The real growth area for tennis as a participative sport and a commerical market is in the Far East. Is this the market that Nike are aiming for? Is this what they recruited him and others for? He is a key sports icon in the East. Can someone's status as an ambassador for their sport be separated from their power as a marketing tool any more? Should it?

Is what to Roger just a bit of fun and a nod to the traditions of Wimbledon actually a more deep sibliminal marketing ploy by Nike directed at new markets. Is the fact that an American company might be marketing one of their top players in a fashion that promotes the sport in one area of the world at the expense of the market in it's home area an issue here. Should Nike be more concerned with promoting the sport in a way that creates growth in the US. Or are they interested in the sport at all, rather looking for the fast buck. I can't comment as I don't even know what the actual ownership of Nike is anymore - is it still largely American or owned by international financiers like most companies?

I also take it that the answer to my question - is it because Roger is a man - is actually yes. Young American males being the group Pete would like to see attracted to the sport in the US. Why do Americans not want to play and watch tennis anymore in the numbers they used to? It's not a question I particularly deeply care about - but I can tell from his blog Pete in his heart and sould does and is looking for answers and solutions.

It's a good point about perceptions - the concerns of a one person (eg Pete or any poster) given their nationality, social and economic group, sexuality, political persuasion - the list goes on and on will all differ. That is why an international forum like this (although based in the US) on the world wide web is so important - so that we can all learn and appreciate groups other than our own. It's an education. Thank you for being part of mine about concerns for the future of tennis in the US.

I always have sympathy for Pete in writing a blog. Rather like posters who comment - things get typed up and sent out so fast - to avoid missing the opportunity for a scoop or original angle - I would imagine any serious research would take too much time and loose the impact. This sounded like a gut reaction to me.

Anyway - all this could be a complete load of rubbish and maybe we are all talking into the stratesphere! It is actually the wee small hours where I am - so I think time to go to bed.

Many thanks again for the stimulating and educational debate. It's good to meet minds different than my own and to hear and begin to understand different views.

Posted by Grigor for SW 19 and Beyond (Still loving Yummy Prince Fed though) 06/22/2009 at 07:59 PM

As an ardent Fed fan I have to say that I laughed out loud when I saw him this morning. I really do not like the outfit. Reminds me too much of the Love Boat. That being said, the longer I look at it, the more I think it fits Roger well. His frame does carry off the look. Perhaps if he discarded the vest (yes the vest was a bit much), but he wore it well. I am not sure what the social implications are in relation to Roger's attire. I dont care how much marketing is done to the masses, tennis will always be seen as an upper class sport, played by the wealthy. Here in the Caribbean, it is only the rich who are members of the local tennis clubs. I had to save long and hard before I could afford the annual fee and dont even speak about court fees that you have to pay. Local Federations have tried for years to try and make tennis a grass roots sport, but here in the Caribbean that is something that is next to impossible. Cricket, football, and track and field are sports that are easy to get children involved in because the outlay is already there, plus there are always corporate sponsors who are willing to throw their money into these events. Tennis, however, apart from being played in the local clubs have never caught on and frankly speaking if that is the position that exists in the Caribbean, I can see that it may be the same thing in America. On one hand I can see where Pete is going with this article, Roger, being one of the more recognisable faces of the sport should be appealing to the masses. However, if the masses cannot identify with the image how then are the masses going to start coming to the game.

Posted by Rosangel 06/22/2009 at 08:00 PM

"no one in Europe gives a hoot about stuff like this, men arent put in such rigid confines when it comes to looks"

Well, I guess the UK isn't part of continental Europe:)

Worse things have happened to tennis than Federer's Wimbledon outfits, for sure:) Aside from the clothes, the thing that baffles me most is - who exactly is the gold and white murse being marketed to? Is it even available to buy?

Posted by Jenn 06/22/2009 at 08:02 PM

I didn't really expect Pete to weigh on in this, but since he brought it up.... I just about spit out my morning coffee when I looked up to see Federer warming up on court in a VEST. Pants? Ok. If you must. But a freaking tuxedo-looking vest. It looked so forced, so cringe-worthy. So NOT cool. I don't mind the logo and $40 t-shirt. Logos about everywhere and to me the RF logo, if you like it, is no different than anything else logo emblazoned. And the logo is relatively understated, if a bit large. But I think that taking the fashion/marketing promotion to the level of a getup makes him look like a clown. Tradition and the nice tennis whites with a flare are one thing. But last I checked there was no tradition of playing lawn tennis in a linen tuxedo/suit complete with vest.

And as Ros so aptly put, he doesn't need to say "look at me, I'm RF." The world is well aware and is already looking.

Posted by rafadoc 06/22/2009 at 08:05 PM

I think Roger looked ridiculous but what I think doesn't matter. I spend a ridiculous amount of time staring at choppy streams trying to follow a little yellow ball and reading body language to tell me who one the point since the commentary is in another language. I am already a fanatic tennis fan. :)

That said, Wimbledon is a time when other sports fans do pay attention to tennis and Roger is doing nothing to promote the sport in that get up. But, its not his job to do that and what he does with his racket will probably more than make up for the terrible judgement in clothing. I just picture many sports fans rolling their eyes.

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

The comments are hilarious, the clothes are hideous!

I agree that Rog looks so much nicer and sexier in his practice clothes than in his boring collars and "High school marching band"/cruise ship director/ spiffy waiter outfit. His practice jacket is great, though the gold and RF stuff is getting over the top. He's got a great array of funny practice T shirts. Just wish he could wear them instead.

I blame Nike and all the ridiculous snobby traditions of Wimbledon. I've seen enough of Roger to know that he's not arrogant or elitist in any essential way, quite the opposite, he laughs at himself a lot, he's kept his down to earth nature.

(Witness his latest comment - "don't be like me", when someone said they felt like crying.) I think he's too easily lead by Nike and Anna Wintour etc.

It's not the essential Roger, but to any casual observer this shouts arrogance and elitism. The last thing that tennis needs.

And I wish they'd tow Wimbledon out on the said cruise ship and dump it at sea. Let's have a grand slam somewhere else in the world which doesn't consist of "gentleman's singles", Pimms, all white, etc etc.

Posted by Nam1 06/22/2009 at 08:06 PM

Jenn,

Ahh, but Roger Federer does like to say "Look at me AGAIN, I'm RF" and we do, don't we?

Look at this thread!!

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

*one=won. D'oh!

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/22/2009 at 08:07 PM

Crazy-for-Rog:

If Tony Godsick thinks Fed's marketing arm/effort has hit a wall in the United States, should we then think or feel (or both) that it's no longer worth trying to market, grow and develop the sport of tennis in the United States?

The 2008 Wimbledon final gave the sport a rare spot in the center of America's water cooler discussions. One could reasonably say that this is an important year for tennis at large, a year in which the sport could possibly break down or at least weaken some substantial cultural (psychological?) barriers with the American public.

Cosi:

Fed can wear something fancy, but fancy in a way that an American consumer can find accessible as a matter of both pricing and style. I have no fashion sense myself, but I can say that a lot of people view the outfit as over-the-top, which--by itself--indicates that Fed has taken himself and his image out of the mainstream. (The sport of tennis? I'm not sure, and that's where I want Pete to buttress his piece with some data and anecdotes.)

Michael Jordan made himself, his apparel (specifically, his shoes), and his sport--basketball--accessible to the American public. Though powerful and very stylishly attired, Jordan--who walked in lofty circles--nevertheless was able to convey a populist identity and image through the Nike apparatus.

It's worth pointing out at this stage in the discussion that Federer began to be PASSIONATELY LOVED, and not merely admired from a distance, when he became VULNERABLE. When Fed lost at Wimbledon to Rafa, and then had the close-shave wins against Andreev and (a little less so) Djokovic at the U.S. Open, Roger's emotions came forth to a degree they hadn't in prior years.

Tiger Woods--besides combining racial identities--also became popular because he owned golf courses and galleries with his uniquely emotional form of swagger. Tiger's best golf, particularly in major tournaments, was (and is) typically accompanied by shouts, fist pumps, and expressive displays. Yes, it's regrettable that Federer (we Fed fans said this for years, particularly during the Pax Federana) was not appreciated by an American audience because of his stoic exterior during matches, but the payoff of this (impoverished) mass perception from the American public was that once Fed did show the emotions, he began to be embraced in a way he never had been before.

Fed was propelled through the '08 U.S. Open by suddenly adoring New York crowds who so solidly pulled for his opponents, particularly Americans (but not exclusively; Novak Djokovic received robust support at Ashe Stadium in the '07 singles final), in past years. Fed gained fan support precisely because he was no longer seen as a robot/ice man/cyborg, or any of the other all-too-familiar labels we Fed fans have had to repeatedly deflect over time.

Roger already has a lock on the sensibilities of an upper-income, well-to-do, bourgeois demographic, in and out of tennis. What Fed began to do last year at the U.S. Open (it continued in Paris at the French) was draw rabid support from the commoners, the members of a "proletariat" who are more temperamentally and socioeconomically inclined to throw their support behind Rafael Nadal. (These themes are not new; they were expressed to some extent in the NYT Sunday Magazine piece on Rafa.)

With all this in mind, Fed and Nike/IMG have clearly NOT hit a wall in the United States, or at least, the jury is still out on the matter. Fed should be using the prominence, visibility and stature of Wimbledon--as both a tennis showcase and a media/TV centerpiece--to market a line of apparel that:

A) people can buy and wear, giving consumers (particularly Americans) a way to identify with Fed when they hit the tennis court;

B) can make people feel like a million bucks, just like Fed;

C) is accompanied by advertisements that capitalize on Fed's unique combination of legendary achievements and increasingly open/accessible emotions.

This outfit--whether you like it or not--is, as a matter of plain and undeniable fact:

1) not available for mass consumption/purchase;

2) not something worn ordinarily, on an everyday level, in public tennis facilities or anywhere else, for that matter.

Perhaps tennis's reputation is not hurt by this, but Pete is undeniably right to the extent that he focused on Roger's image and Roger's level of emotional and economic accessibility to the larger public, particularly in America, and ESPECIALLY in relationship to Tiger Woods (and the sport of golf).

Note to Christopher:

Yes, Tiger is not drawing minorities into golf. You're absolutely right. However, golf--though in point of fact more elitist than tennis--enjoys levels of popularity, TV ratings, prize money, and media emphasis/exposure that put tennis to shame. Tennis is such a superior product, but golf grabs the lion's share of media advantages and material goods. For that, Tiger is 99 percent responsible.

Posted by Chris 06/22/2009 at 08:10 PM

I watched the golfers at the US Open yesterday and wondered why Nike gives them shirts that look so much better and seem more comfortable than the shirts the tennis players wear.
At least Nadal found a way out of looking ridiculous in his circus performer outfit.

Posted by Nam1 06/22/2009 at 08:12 PM


"Yes, Tiger is not drawing minorities into golf. You're absolutely right. However, golf--though in point of fact more elitist than tennis--enjoys levels of popularity, TV ratings, prize money, and media emphasis/exposure that put tennis to shame. Tennis is such a superior product, but golf grabs the lion's share of media advantages and material goods. For that, Tiger is 99 percent responsible."


Matt Z: Word!

Check out any sports channel in N.America right now, wall to wall coverage of US Open (golf not tennis), any weekend, you can find golf on TV but try to get coverage of anything other than the 4 slams in tennis , forget it!!

Posted by Pspace (Lestat de SW19) 06/22/2009 at 08:12 PM

"""
To me the pure brilliance of "full-flight Federer" is by far the best thing about him in terms of his contribution to the sport, and he's rightly honoured for all that he's capable of on the court. In many ways I wish it were easier to discuss him at that "pure" level, without Nike's "image" and the neverending GOAT debate getting in the way.
"""

Wow, Rosangel. Didn't know you saw it this way. Yeah, I agree about the "full flight Fed", of course. I see the Nike "image" as fluff...not really worth considering. Don't see how it gets in the way. The GOAT debate, well, it will always be a debate.

Posted by olive 06/22/2009 at 08:16 PM

i disagree with what you write about federer.

most people in the world live in cities. most people, including MEN, buy high fashion knock offs. nike is trying to appeal to those city people in there mid-twenties through late-forties who would dress like this for a night out, regardless of their economic class. much less people live in the country side or suburbs or in the city who don't care how they look.

federer is being cheeky. so was nadal in his piratas. nike made a decision to market federer to such and such a crowd and nadal to another. i believe nadal will be wearing those suits if he gets his knees in order if fashion is still moving this way in several years.

agassi's spandex, nadal's sweater and federer's cardigan don't tell me anything about their moral values or whther they are snobs are not.

federer still wears shorts while playing, woods is wearing that outfit while playing!

it's clark gable mogambo, duran duran, libertines, harrison ford, blur, any guy you might see in vienna, madrid, london, ny, la, sydney, reykijavik, mumbai, beijing, tehran on a saturday night.

Posted by Sherlock 06/22/2009 at 08:17 PM

I wish someday a top athlete would say screw the endorsements and wear whatever he pulled out of the drawer. :)

Posted by Pspace (Lestat de SW19) 06/22/2009 at 08:18 PM

"""
I wish someday a top athlete would say screw the endorsements and wear whatever he pulled out of the drawer. :)
"""

Been done before. He was called Pete Sampras.

Posted by Jose Benson 06/22/2009 at 08:18 PM

Peter, lighten up on the clothes for heaven's sake and discuss tennis. Roger is just having some fun. And if Nike paid me what it pays Roger,I'd wear a Carmen Miranda hat on Court if they asked!

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

Sorry - but all this "concern" over what Federer wears is way too excessive and doesn't really amount to a hill of beans.

Who really cares how any of these players dress - did what Nadal wore at the FO really make or break anything - no - it was Rafa's play that was of interest and importance.

Same with Roger -it's how he will handle his MATCHES and how he progresses thru the tournament that has meaning.

And I'm real tired of reading snide swipes about "gayness" - whether it's directed at Roger or any other man on the planet.

I don't like that OLD boy cluby way of taking a guy down with jabs at their perceived sexuality.

If you're straight big deal.

If you're gay big deal.

It's who the person is and their accomplishments that interest me.

Posted by Sam 06/22/2009 at 08:23 PM

"I think my BFed has gone a bit over the top this time, but it all seems pretty harmless. "

tangi: Yeah, can't say that I like the outfit, but agree that it's harmless. In any case, the best fashion accessory for Fed is the winner's trophy.

Posted by VC 06/22/2009 at 08:23 PM

I'd like Federer to go with green and purple tinges in his outfit if he wants to honour the Wimbledon tradition, rather than gold. So much more soothing to the eye.

Posted by Grant 06/22/2009 at 08:23 PM

"Tennis is such a superior product, but golf grabs the lion's share of media advantages and material goods. For that, Tiger is 99 percent responsible."

I suspect the fact that more people play golf than tennis is a factor as well, and the fact that golf is a less physically grueling sport then tennis may be a factor in that. Maybe even more than 1%, but I haven't done the market research.

Posted by Ruth 06/22/2009 at 08:36 PM

I was just thinking that the best test of whether Nike agrees with those of us who think that Roger's 2009 outfit was over the top/outlandish/too much will be what Roger wears at Wimbledon next year.

I am willing to bet anyone (let's make it $10) that the 2010 Wimby outfit will be more subdued and closer to the throwback/homage-to-the-early-days cardigan and blazer than to whatever was the inspiration for this year's outfit. Mark my words!


Of course, if I had my way, I'd choose a throwback to the short shorts days. :)

Posted by rafadoc 06/22/2009 at 08:36 PM

"I wish someday a top athlete would say screw the endorsements and wear whatever he pulled out of the drawer. :) "

Sherlock: Totes agree. How about that grey t-shirt that is a bit raggedy around the color? That said, Tommy Robredo always looks like THE tennis player to me. *mom's voice*-"he always looks so nice that Tommy Robredo-does he have a girlfriend?"

Posted by VC 06/22/2009 at 08:38 PM

Does anyone know whether that infamous "murse" carries stuff of any actual use? Does it get opened on court?

Posted by KittyMac 06/22/2009 at 08:39 PM

Of course golf as well is so much easier for your average celebrity of any age to take up. As a non-American can I ask how much the popularlity of golf amongst the you has been impacted by the involvement of celebrities such as Justin Timerlake (and others)?

Tennis is physically gruelling - can't quite imagine Timberlake, TI and Snoop Dogg grinding it out on a tennis court or discussing the benefits of an inside out backhand.

Maybe tennis isn't that cool - but when did golf become that cool?

Could the things that popularised golf amongst the young in the US be used to find a way to popularise tennis? Or is youth the issue - is it more middle aged middle americans who distrust tennis?

I know - I said I'd go to bed.

Posted by MikeDC 06/22/2009 at 08:42 PM

LOL @ siblily: Hamper Chic.

I am totally trying that style out this weekend. To hell with the RF jacket/murse ensemble I just ebayed for $1,500.

Posted by keefriff 06/22/2009 at 08:43 PM

Zip it Matt Zemek - we don't need you to interpret for us

Posted by Dunlop Maxply 06/22/2009 at 08:46 PM

Its mostly down to personal taste, but for whatever reason I have always found Nike men's tennis apparel to be, well, not so much ugly as just consistently disapointing.

Nadal's whole pirates/sleveless shirt thing was ridiculous. I mean, it looked O.K. on Nadal, but Nadal has male model good looks and one of the best physiques of all time. One time Maxply Jr. played a kid in the 12 and unders who showed up in a Nadal outfit and the effect was not good.

Then, when they re-design the stuff this year, I mean, how bad did the two tone shirt look? Its just a weak design.

Adidas, by contrast, almost never looks weak. Other than that Lendl design they had going in the late 80's, you could imagine buying and wearing almost every Adidas men's outfit I have ever seen. Not saying every one is great, but most seem very appropriate, no matter the color.

I wonder who runs the men's design department over there?

Posted by rafadoc 06/22/2009 at 08:49 PM

Matt Z: Do you think the American (U.S.) sports fan even relates to Roger? I don't think they do. Why should Nike actually try to market his actual on court stuff when they are causing a buzz with this over the top stuff such as he wore today? From a marketing perspective the word "Nike" and "Federer" get watercooler discussion, which is probably Nike's best approach when it comes to Roger who is not the typical American sports hero.

Posted by beth 06/22/2009 at 08:53 PM

hmmm - so much to say about this one
but - well I will start by saying I think the warm and vest are way over the top
silly looking actually - I have to say I did not think Love Boat so much as thinking it needed a glove and a chimp a la Michael Jackson to complete the look

shame , because I really think Federer's shorts and polos are so classy looking and so attractive on him - just form fitting enough to show off his fine athletic build

I know it is an American obsession with what is and what is not male/ macho
and I do see where Pete is coming from - tennis has enough trouble here in the states
taking a bad rap for not being a " manly " enough sport
( not that I believe that - it just seems to be a perception of a large portion of the sports fan population )
so - if we are trying to grow our sport - have the powers that be at ESPN and the other networks stand up and take notice - and show us the game on the television - I am not sure that parading around in a Halloween costume during the highest profile tournament is the way to do it .
Of course , fashion does not really matter in the grand scheme of things - it is a sideline , some fluff and fun
but as an image of a sport - that has a hard time getting air time in the States - why is NIke trying to make this great champion look silly and open to riducule ? Other than the old adage there is not "bad publicity " I can't see any good to come of it .
But - if all they want is for people to talk about their clothes
they have succeeded , apparently

Posted by beth 06/22/2009 at 08:56 PM

I agree with Dunlop here about the Nadal look ( piratas and tank tops )
have any of you ever seen any grown man ( other than Rafa ) in that ensemble
Sadly - I have - and it is almost laughable

little kids look kind of cute - in a hero worship sort of way
but still - not the best look I have ever seen either

Posted by Sherlock 06/22/2009 at 08:57 PM

Pspace, he he. Good point on Sampras. :)

I did like that "I'm a jock and I don't care" side of Sampras. As opposed to, um, the not so much that way Mr. Agassi. :)

Rafadoc, lol. Agreed. Tommy is always quite dashing in his attire. :)

Posted by Grigor for SW19 and Beyond 06/22/2009 at 08:59 PM

Why do people have to be so rude. On 2 occassions I have seen people tell Matt Zemek, a respected poster here, and I think a journalist in his own right to shut up. I think that is quite rude actually. If you disagree with a poster's comment, there is absolutely no reason in the world to tell the person to shut up. Frankly, it makes you, the shutter upper look bad.
@Ruth, I take your 10.00 and raise you 5.00. I just think that Roger made a really poor decision on this outfit. I so hope he cans the vest. The rest of the outfit is ok, it is just the vest that is a bit too much.

Posted by Sam 06/22/2009 at 08:59 PM

"I did like that "I'm a jock and I don't care" side of Sampras. As opposed to, um, the not so much that way Mr. Agassi. :)"

LOL Sherlock.

Posted by jhc 06/22/2009 at 08:59 PM

wow. great tennis analysis. must be tough being so uptight, you're forced to write several hundred words ridiculing the clothes the guy wears for 10 minutes before playing his match in shorts and t-shirt (which are functional, exactly unlike your analogy with woods's clothes suggest).

Posted by Ryota 06/22/2009 at 09:04 PM

In no other sport has fashion become an obssession (and necessity)than in tennis. What's next the players doing their post-match interviews in suits, ties, tiaras, and ball gowns? :)

That said, I do like Federer's Wimbledon shirt this time around. (Last year's was too white. :D) This year's jacket? Not so much but better compared to that Grandpa cardigan.

Best Wimbledon outfit for me still belongs to Borg. That Fila-stripped shirt is just classic.

Posted by CL 06/22/2009 at 09:04 PM

It finely hit me what Fed's current Wimby shirt, (which I quite like), reminds me off...those subtle white on white stripes; to quote the great Bea Lillie, "double damask dinner napkins."

Posted by sblily (Meh > Wheeeee!!!/Vamos Maymo!) 06/22/2009 at 09:05 PM

Tommy Robredo always looks like THE tennis player to me. *mom's voice*-"he always looks so nice that Tommy Robredo-does he have a girlfriend?"
~~~~~

LOL, Rafadoc! I've always thought that Ex-Disco would make a great "take home man." He's picture frame handsome, his clothes fit well, and the omnipresent watch scream efficient and responsible.

It's a pity about his game and oncourt demeanor (zzzzzzzz).

Posted by sblily (Meh > Wheeeee!!!/Vamos Maymo!) 06/22/2009 at 09:06 PM

*screams

Posted by Grant 06/22/2009 at 09:07 PM

"I know it is an American obsession with what is and what is not male/ macho
and I do see where Pete is coming from - tennis has enough trouble here in the states
taking a bad rap for not being a " manly " enough sport"

Yeah but it's had that rap since before the ridiculous getups. If I cared about marketing tennis in the states I'm not sure if I'd have Federer shotgun a beer and talk trash in the warmup or just say "whatever, it's not going to work without american players on top anyway". I lean towards the latter, as I can't help but think that americans will consider any sport dominated by non-americans to not be manly.

Posted by Vishnu 06/22/2009 at 09:09 PM

In my experience, people like to buy replicas of what athletes actually wear on court. Jerseys and shoes seem to be much more popular than any other extraneous fashion lines that athletes have. So I don't know if this outfit has any significance at all, especially considering that the mythical "average sports fan" is probably not invested enough in tennis to even see Federer in this outfit.

Posted by Vick Gower 06/22/2009 at 09:09 PM

While another person might appear snobbish doing this kind of routine, Roger doesn't because of his classy character. Context is everything. His overall behavior/integrity on/off the court. His wholesome relationships/lifestyle. Such a context really makes this indulgence of Rogers more a fun thing than a snobbery drill.

Posted by Leandro Passos 06/22/2009 at 09:09 PM

Sorry, Pete, but i didn't like this post. I don't agree with you about Fed's style. The outfit is good and i don't think wearing this means that Fed or any man is less "man" or "macho" that someone else.

Posted by Namby Pamby 06/22/2009 at 09:11 PM

Roger's outfit makes him look fat.

Posted by rafadoc 06/22/2009 at 09:12 PM

sblily: Hee. I wish his game was as sharp as his tennis whites. :) BTW: Totes agree: Vamos Rafael Maymo!

Posted by vetmama - RF FTW!!! (please?) 06/22/2009 at 09:13 PM

"LOL, Pete. That's a rather serious opinion over an outfit. Is it really such a big deal?"

Pspace @ 4:40
One of the rare times I disagree, my friend.
Pete has put his finger on exactly what has bothered me about the clothes.

"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."

What could have been just a sidenote nod to tradition (the original, fairly low-key 2006 blazer) has been turned into a major marketing ploy by Nike to generate attention for themselves through Roger.

This is fine if it benefits "the talent" as well as the sponsor, but their designers are tampering with Roger's image in a dangerous way. Many of his fans like his dress-up outfits and gold-lame bags, but they are well-disposed to at least accept whatever he serves up. On the other hand, internet forums are cluttered with tennis fans who despise Fed for this manufactured image from Nike and IMG, and it erodes the fan-base that's so precious to him.

I'm not so naive to believe that Roger has nothing to do with this; even at Number Two he still wields enormous power and can do what he wants. But I completely agree with Pete that Nike designers are behind most of it, Fed does it because it amuses him, not seeing that they're setting him up to be seen as a fool by a large contingent of tennis fans.

Posted by Heidi 06/22/2009 at 09:14 PM

You know, I was thinking at the gym just now... maybe Federer doesn't look ridiculous to other big emerging markets, which might be what Nike is going for. I think the Europeans are at least more interested and less completely disdainful than we Americans seem to generally be about this outfit and the whole issue (judging from comments here). And for all I know, in China and India, people look at this and think he looks awesome. I'll agree with others here that it may do no favors for tennis in the U.S., but whoever said that that was the goal?

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/22/2009 at 09:15 PM

Stepping back for a bit, what strikes me in following the trajectory of this discussion is something that exists in the back of our minds, regardless of what our specific views might be.....

I welcome the community here to tell me if I'm wrong; this is not being advanced as truth, but as a possible explanation for why various people--on various sides of the debate--are saying what they're saying:

In this corner, I am saying what I'm saying because I'm not content with tennis's level of stature/visibility/prominence in American media and athletics. The actual quality of tennis, the theatrical value of tennis, and the television product of tennis all merit more prime-time exposure, front-page sports section coverage, and prize money than does golf. Big-time tennis should not be treated as a fifth-rate sports property or destination, but it is. I don't like it, and I don't want to accept it.

For me, then, the way the sport is perceived (and developed) in the United States is important; the way Fed is perceived in America is hugely significant for me--not as a Fed fan, but as an American who wants to see his country become better than it is, and who wants to see tennis enjoy the response it deserves... NOT the response it currently receives from the American public, and from American TV networks in particular.

In the other corner, those who think this is much ado about nothing (or next to nothing) are saying what they're saying because they have come to terms with tennis's place in the American media cosmos (or, perhaps, the global media cosmos). People in this camp, more or less, are not entertaining notions of a bold, new ascendancy for tennis in the worlds of mass-marketing and global iconography. Because European broadcast outlets give tennis much more prominence and centrality than do American networks, Fed's image-making or image-shaping decisions made in concert with Nike, an American corporate giant, don't mean that much and don't carry the same amount of weight. America is peripheral to the conversation, if not entirely irrelevant, so let's all move on with our lives, and why is this being talked about so much?

There are nuanced splinter camps within each larger group, but I think those are the two basic schools of thought/outlook on this topic.

I would repeat, just to emphasize the point for non-American TennisWorld members, that whenever the US Open men's singles final arrives, you are forced to wait 30-40 extra minutes for the start of the match. Why? Because American professional football has to finish, and CBS (the American network) has to bend over backwards to accommodate pro football, before it can then deal with the (inferior, not-so-special, boutique-like, sideshow) sport of tennis.

Every year, people in other parts of the globe are forced to look on in bafflement and ask: "What is wrong with those Americans? Why do their TV networks give so much power to North American football and give tennis, a truly global sport, such horrible treatment? Why do American TV networks make such stupid decisions despite the power and money they command?"

Rosangel learned about the power of American TV first-hand on her visit to New York last year. If tennis gets a stronger foothold in America, perhaps there will come a time when the U.S. Open tennis schedule will actually be fairer and more enlightened whenever a hurricane remnant hits the world's media capital.

Roger Federer's clothing--seemingly unrelated to the U.S. Open's schedule, the USTA, and the CBS network--is actually something that, in the long run (not the short run), affect the way tennis is treated on television in America. For that reason alone, I think this topic contains more importance than others.

Posted by Grant 06/22/2009 at 09:20 PM

"People in this camp, more or less, are not entertaining notions of a bold, new ascendancy for tennis in the worlds of mass-marketing and global iconography."

I'd say some of us are preparing for a world in which you can become a global icon without being a big deal in the states.

Posted by Alex 06/22/2009 at 09:22 PM

You know nothing about anything Peter Bodo. I hope TENNIS.com does not pay for you to write trash.

I'm glad Kim Clijsters is coming since you are such a hater of her.

Posted by VC 06/22/2009 at 09:24 PM

But hasn't Federer done far more to popularise the sport in USA by winning 5 straight US Opens and countless MS titles, than anyone else in recent memory? I mean, surely that should have much more impact than his pre-match outfits at Wimbledon. If Nadal had made the finals last year, I think it would have been the most keenly anticipated match after the 2002 Sampras-Agassi final, because of the way the rivalry had been built up...

Posted by Willrich 06/22/2009 at 09:24 PM

Clothing attire will be meaningless at the end of the fortnight. The tennis is what really matters.

However, since it has been brought up, when will Wimbledon finally get out of the dark ages and allow players to wear other colors other than the boring all-white?

It took them over 100 years to stop using white balls. How long will it take them to stop the all-white boredom attire?

I like the Darth Vader Federer look at the U.S. Open in 2007. Perhaps Wimbledon can change their "image" with that type of look.

By the way, it looks like another dream final. Federer (going for his 15th major) against Murray (going for Britain first title since sometime around the Neville Chamberlain administration). Talk about a high energy match that would be.

Posted by Pspace (Lestat de SW19) 06/22/2009 at 09:25 PM

vetmama, yeah, I know what you're talking about. Just couldn't care less about that segment. Should Roger? I dunno...he does well enough already. Imo, the fact that he's a polarizing figure is actually good for the game. And contrasts nicely with the persona of Nadal.

Anyways, if the outfits/image are the determining factor in going from appreciation to loathing of Roger, I'd rather he makes no effort to solicit such support. In fact, I rather admire a guy who has the stones to try such a boderline insane choice of clothes.

Posted by Sam2 06/22/2009 at 09:25 PM

haha. its only a handful of you who doesnt appreciate it. Wimbledon is like the most prestigious grandslam of the year. it is definitely ok to be more dressed up for warm up...

Nothing is wrong. He look elegant in the suit. with his new oncourt outfit. the gold outshines the rest.

Please do not give such comments when you do not know about much or follow fashion. There are alot of people out there who really appreciate what Nike have done for him. come on. we are in the modern era. no more traditional tennis outfits.

[Edited. Could you please use a different handle. There is a poster here who uses that handle and precedes you. Thanks]

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/22/2009 at 09:25 PM

Rafadoc:

I'll be very direct with you, since you kindly asked me a direct--and quite thoughtful--question:

If I'm Nike (I shudder at the thought, but of course I'm just playing hypothetical here...), I market a line of clothes that has classic forms and edgy forms, but nothing that could possibly be considered loud or over-the-top.

For my commercials to an American audience, I would lay down some kind of rock soundtrack akin to what Apple did with its immensely successful and critically acclaimed I-Pod commercials (with the black silhouette against a sharp color background with the white I-Pod cord figuring prominently in the picture).

For the action shots or visuals, I would use the pictures that portray Federer's non-teary displays of emotion during the U.S. Open, specifically the cowboy-like "WHOO-HOOO!" and the double-barreled fist jabs he made late in the Andreev match. Yes, Roger has not captured the American public at large, but he DID capture the New York crowd in that Andreev match, and Nike is stupid to not use that match as a template for U.S.-based Federer-themed advertising campaigns.

Nike did create some great Sampras-and-Agassi campaigns to capitalize on the time windows when that in-and-out rivalry flourished. There's no reason Nike couldn't involve Federer (and/or Rafa) in a similar campaign at this point in time. In terms of a Fed-only campaign (without Rafa), I'd milk that Andreev match for all it's worth. Surely, a popular (and affordable, and accessible) product or two could be produced by a smart ad campaign employing that match and its attendant visuals.

Posted by Christopher 06/22/2009 at 09:29 PM

On the subject of golf and tennis. Apparently some drunk spectators were heckling Tiger yesterday. And I quote from the article: "Woods did not respond to the people who were heckling him but tried to quiet the crowd with a 'sshh' hand gesture, putting his finger to his lips, as golfers prepared to tee off on the adjacent 12th tee.
'Suck it up, you've got your own video game!' someone shouted at Woods."

Rudeness notwithstanding, that line about the video game is freakin' great.

Posted by Brittany 06/22/2009 at 09:29 PM

This post comes off REALLY homophobic.

OK, I get it - Roger should dress less outlandishly so that he doesn't keep reminding everyone that he's TMF and has 14 Grand Slams and is super-rich and super-talented and good-looking and essentially just made of awesome. That part I kinda see. But the "weenie" stuff over and over? "Dandification"? Maybe it's because Pete's an old guy and comes from a different school, but we should really be past making fun of men just because they dress fashionably or with an eye for being unique. If you're going to think that way, Pete, don't worry - Roger is one of the most gifted athletes on the planet. That alone means he's brimming with testosterone.

Posted by kansri 06/22/2009 at 09:29 PM

Everything about federer is his business, right? If you don't have anything to write, maybe you can tell me about Nadal exit. Is it because he felt ashamed of loss in the fourth round by the world number 23, or his body tells him something?

Posted by beth 06/22/2009 at 09:30 PM

Grant - nah - I don't want the trash talking or the beer swilling to take over tennis either
and you are right - tennis is not going to get play in the US until the US players pick up and start playing better ( ahem - Blake )
But - regardless , the perception of tennis as elitist and somewhat less than macho as sport - is there
why give them even more ammunition to fire at it with ?

Posted by Jake 06/22/2009 at 09:30 PM

Vick Gower,

Word.

All this brouhaha about what Federer wore today is much ado about nothing.

Come on, guys. What is wrong with a little spice ala a Sgt Pepper look or a throwback good-old "An Officer and a Gentleman" memoryjug!

The guy's down-to-earth, and has his head screwed on right - foundation work in South Africa, a budding family, devotion to his craft, not known for late-night bong-jobs and drunken parties (ok - maybe he did a little something after RG-2009, but I doubt it was over-the-top) - all-in-all a very genuine guy!

Just a lil fun, that's all. Cut some slack!

Posted by jon 06/22/2009 at 09:31 PM

Wow, you actually wrote an entire article on his clothes, unbelievable. Really, really wish people would just stop talking about, it makes Americans seem retarded when all we can do is talk about Roger's 'silly clothes' on ESPN and tennis.com. It's your problem, Pete, that you feel that tennis has ever been a 'weenie' sport. Would I wear the stuff? No way, but I'm not Roger Federer and neither are you

Posted by Vie 06/22/2009 at 09:36 PM

You hit on the right word. The picture especially carrying the golden bag over his shoulder, he looked feminine. Dandy is the word.

Posted by rafadoc 06/22/2009 at 09:37 PM

Matt Z: Thanks for answering my question...I am glad you understood what I was talking about. To me...this point that you make is huge:

"Yes, Roger has not captured the American public at large, but he DID capture the New York crowd in that Andreev match, and Nike is stupid to not use that match as a template for U.S.-based Federer-themed advertising campaigns"

WHY didn't Nike take advantage of this? This was their chance to use Roger to sell a ton of Nike duds! AND, further, after Rafa won Wimbly, why didn't they run their "The world's best lefty is really a righty" ad they had for Rafa in the U.S.? I saw it on youtube but not on U.S. T.V. I think those types of ads would really resonate with the U.S. sports viewer. Nike just seems to have horrible timing and decision making to me.

Posted by Jenn 06/22/2009 at 09:37 PM

Has someone taken over Sam's moniker?

Posted by Sam 06/22/2009 at 09:37 PM

"In the other corner, those who think this is much ado about nothing (or next to nothing) are saying what they're saying because they have come to terms with tennis's place in the American media cosmos."

Matt: I guess I'm just not concerned about what the mainstream media thinks about the fashion stuff. I'm just interested in Roger's tennis - if he plays well, that's more than enough for me.

Posted by Sam 06/22/2009 at 09:38 PM

Jenn: Apparently ...

Posted by Grant 06/22/2009 at 09:39 PM

"why give them even more ammunition to fire at it with ?"

Why, because who cares, that's why. I have a feeling that the marketing people saw the move as one that would play well in a bunch of markets, and poorly in the US. They weighed them against each other and said "whatever, the existing american tennis fans are diehards, and it's not like we're winning converts there without a top american male anyway." And if a tier-one american player comes along, it creates the kind of story line that american sports fans love - gritty yank vs. effete euro.

Posted by Brittany 06/22/2009 at 09:39 PM

Grant -

You rock. Matt is SOO erudite, isn't he? ;-)

Posted by DoctorFed 06/22/2009 at 09:40 PM

I hope Bodo realizes he's the biggest snob there is writing his articles (I am being facetious there; because I love Bodo and his articles (generally) but he can certainly be construed as that. Big deal with Roger's fashion. I do agree this years is a tad over the top, should call him Doctor Fed (Doctor No) looks like his costume in white if locked the collars up a bit more.

Anyways; stellar as always Peter but overkill on the fashion stuff and Fed. It's really not THAT bad...

Posted by KittyMac 06/22/2009 at 09:41 PM

"Roger Federer's clothing--seemingly unrelated to the U.S. Open's schedule, the USTA, and the CBS network--is actually something that, in the long run (not the short run), affect the way tennis is treated on television in America. For that reason alone, I think this topic contains more importance than others."

Matt (no I'm still not in bed),

I was just writing a post of this nature when I saw this. Beth posted a similar concern which gave me my first insight into this. No offence to anybody else, but sometimes its a simple comments that enlightens!

I did once hear a middle-aged middle-American (as I would classify him) once loudly state in London that he couldn't "get" Federer as he looked and behaved more like a principal dancer in a ballet company than a proper sportsman. At the time I found this rather offensive, but it does show an underlying difference in perceptions in various parts of the world. I would imagine many of the executives in ESPN and other news and sports media outlets and their advertisers are rather in the same category as the gentleman mentioned above and their attitudes and perceptions would govern the amount of coverage tennis receives in the US and its resultant popularity amongst those who gain their viewpoints about sport from those media. Point taken and I understand your concern.

As I stated before, this is not a primary concern for me, I am as interested in the development of tennis in the Far East, India, Africa and Latin America as I am in the development of tennis in the US - but I fully understand that it is the primary concern for Pete and many others and a passionate concern as well. Also as mentioned before the role of Nike and IMG (both American companies) might also raise questions.

Thank you for helping with my understanding of this blog - it confused me and concerned me - I think a lot of emotion went into it and I wanted to understand where he was coming from and it wasn't clear to me as a non-American. I don't share a lot of Pete's concerns on this issue or even necessarily agree with them as I have completely different perceptions but through the discussion I can see more of what is actually behind what Pete was saying.

Posted by † Hallelujah 06/22/2009 at 09:41 PM

the clothes make him look like somebody I'd hate to lose a tennis match to. "I couldn't possibly lose to THAT guy!" As much a fan as I am, I wouldn't mind some player sending him and that god-awful murse packing early here.

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