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 rick 06/22/2009 at 09:42 PM

I admire Roger's tennis as much as anyone, but the clothes are just plain embarrassing. Forgive me, but does the RF logo stand for Really Fruity? Stop listening to Anna Wintour and dress like a MAN!

Posted by Josh 06/22/2009 at 09:42 PM

Great post. Absolutely spot on. Thanks Pete. Someone please send it to Roger (after the tournament).

Posted by Jake 06/22/2009 at 09:47 PM


Nadal can wear pink, and still whoop ass, no?

Posted by sally 06/22/2009 at 09:47 PM

as the owner of 14 slams i guess rog can wear what he wants.
it's gets people talking, so what's the harm?

Posted by Sherlock 06/22/2009 at 09:50 PM

I wonder what Connors would have done if an opponent warmed up looking like he was going to toast the bride and groom? :)

Posted by Sam 06/22/2009 at 09:52 PM

Sherlock: Probably utter a bunch of words we're not allowed to say here. ;-)

Posted by Grant 06/22/2009 at 09:54 PM

Sherlock: given Connors' outsider complex, it probably would've driven him nuts.

Posted by Pspace (Lestat de SW19) 06/22/2009 at 09:56 PM

Sherlock, hehe, you're right. He's just taking advantage of Rafa's humility. I dunno man. GOAT or not...I'd just be cracking up if someone warmed up in a waistcoat.

Although the comment about catering to the Fare East seems plausible. Or, at least, he's catering to guys who watch cheesy Kung Fu movies from Hong Kong.

"Once upon a time in London"?

Posted by Sherlock 06/22/2009 at 09:57 PM

LOL, Sam. Indeed. And be his usual creative self about it as well, I'm sure. :)

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/22/2009 at 09:58 PM


I'm not sure I know what you're thinking at this point, and you can correct me if I'm wrong, but let me be clear:

I do not LIKE or ENJOY the fact that American media centers and TV networks enjoy the power and centrality that they do.

What I want is for Fed--with his virtues and values, which, as Or so thoughtfully and elegantly expressed upthread, deserve greater prominence in an impoverished culture such as America's--to be appreciated for who and what he is in the United States, beyond the ranks of tennis diehards. That process--if it is to continue and meet with increased success--will have to be achieved with the help of American media machines and outlets.

I am not liking the fact that American media outlets have a disproportionately large amount of influence; I am merely trying to say that Fed and Nike/IMG need to use said outlets more effectively to convey the Federer identity and ethos--all the good things you and I love about Roger--to the audience that would benefit so greatly as a result.


All your observations are rich and spot-on, as usual. I find that you are consistently able to fill out gaps and identify deficiencies in my larger thought process. Are you sure you're not a world-class editor? :-)

(We at TW already know you're a first-rate comic talent and refreshingly piercing commentator who busts balloons, explodes myths, and destroys shibboleths.)

Thanks for making me smile each time you post.

Posted by Roger That 06/22/2009 at 09:58 PM

Let's just cut straight the chase here. This is not about Roger's 2009 outfit for SW19. This is about Peter Bodo's "old boy's club" homo-phobic response to his general distaste for Roger Federer. Roger is a metrosexual who plays "ballet tennis" and he much prefer to watch Rafa Nadal who shows his big biceps and plays more "Manly tennis". I suggest Peter Bodo just quit tennis and go report on NFL. He'd be MUCH happier with all those MANLY MEN!!!

Posted by Roger That 06/22/2009 at 09:59 PM

Matt - no matter what you say, bottom line is Americans just don't give a frak about tennis. If they could not warm to 2006 Uber-Roger they will never care about tennis. Rafa will not save it in America, no matter how much he flexes.

Posted by Roger That 06/22/2009 at 10:02 PM

If IMG/Nike can market Roger successfully to everywhere BUT America, so be it! America is not the end all of the world and I say that as an American.

Posted by Lynne (Rafalite) 06/22/2009 at 10:02 PM

I can't help wondering whether Pete's article was written just as a 'send up' or is he, perhaps, just teasing us to see how we react?

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 10:04 PM

look if Roger is making TV commercials with Tiger Woods and Derek Jeter, he's done pretty well in America, no?

he's definitely done as well as a non American is gonna do, not sure how many commercials Borg did here, either...

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

Matt Z:

If I was really an editor I probably wouldn't have had to look up 'shibboleth'. I was really hoping that I destroy dragons or something. I'm glad you're around, too.

Posted by siggy poseur fashionista 06/22/2009 at 10:09 PM

OMG, it's just an outfit. Must we project quite so much? Then again, I'll take the epaulets over sleeveless anyday!

Grant, identity politic and class consciousness, you are too too sly. What do you make of the fact that Ralph L. and Martha S. happen to be first (I think!) generation Polish Americans?

Posted by Nam1 06/22/2009 at 10:10 PM

To those who think that Roger's outfit might appeal to those in the "Far East", China, Japan, India (those far off and exotic countries!!):

Umm. No.

As one who grew up in one of those countries, I can speak for the fact that people there have common sense like people every where else and Roger's outfit comes off as pretentious and over the top to any observer with common sense, except rabid Roger fangirls and fanboys.

The people in those countries are connected to the rest of the world,you know, and are as savvy as anyone else and believe me, from the emails I am getting from friends and family there, they find Roger's "marching band" look as hilarious as the rest of us.

Posted by Sam 06/22/2009 at 10:11 PM

Grant: Whew, glad I'm not the only one who had to look up that word ...

Posted by Sam 06/22/2009 at 10:13 PM

siggy: Sometimes a cigar is just a cigar, eh? ;-)

Posted by Corrie 06/22/2009 at 10:13 PM

I'm not American, let alone an American man, but I think these clothes look over the top and arrogant to the millions who don't know Roger well, and will just say, "What an up himself sissy"!

I know he's not like that. I like him because he is warm, funny and caring and emotional with a great sense of humour. I saw at first hand the great work he's done in Africa.

I know he's just having fun with these clothes, he's quirky like that, but he has been persuaded too much by Nike and hasn't thought enough that the casual fan will just see all this gold and RFs everywhere, stupid bags etc, as some effete, remote twirp, and if that's tennis, why watch?

You may see this as the crass jock mentality, what we call in Australia "ocker", but unfortunately, that's how a lot of the world still is.

Posted by Nam1 06/22/2009 at 10:13 PM

Also, is Matt Zemek for real or is it a joke that Pete has cooked up?

I mean, amazing writing and everything, but I'm just saying...

Posted by Oases Orfell (Rafa's regenerating for USO!) 06/22/2009 at 10:14 PM

So is that why everyone at Wimbledon has to wear wite? Because Roger is waring white? If so, why Roger? If Rafa is the defending champion, shouldn't he get to decide what the other players wear? So they should wear pink, since Rafa is the champion and #1 player int he world?

Posted by Grant 06/22/2009 at 10:14 PM

"I was really hoping that I destroy dragons or something. I'm glad you're around, too."

Umm, but I don't mean "I'm glad you're around to destroy". That kind of got away from me. Another sign of me not being an editor.

Posted by Roger That 06/22/2009 at 10:15 PM

Oases - just shut up.

Posted by Friend 06/22/2009 at 10:15 PM


What is your qualification to comment on fashion? Just that you have a blog and can say whatever you want? While you are at it, what is your qualification as a tennis writer? Did you ever play pro-tennis? Or are you writing to epitomize tennis from a non-player's perspective?

Either way, you are fast approaching your sell by date as an author. Do us a favor and give more qualified and deserving youngsters a chance to write while you reap the rewards of all your hardwork over the years. Frankly, you are ruining all the good work you have done by making a clown of yourself. Anyone who has a degree in fashion or art will tell you, you are the clown and not the ones at Nike. Reading your articles these days is worse than watching safin play. You know that he does not belong on the tennis court anymore, yet there he is playing.

My advise to you is to follow that greatman who is retiring and save your legacy. Else you will go down the bud-collins or dick-enberg road, which is a pity because I liked the 3 of you when you guys were in the zone. sadly, like any profession, even writing has a sell-by-date. You definitely seem to be near it (maybe even passed it). Your articles seem to be written for the sake of writing something (maybe to meet some deadline or some other reason) but writing is at its best when you let things flow rather than you reaching or grabbing for things.

Here's hoping you wont end up like bud collins or dick enberg

Posted by amanaceo 06/22/2009 at 10:16 PM

Pete - stick to tennis; oh wait, you can not because your pink shirt muscle boy is not playing - what else can you do? you can't pick on Federer's game, poor you!

Posted by Nam1 06/22/2009 at 10:16 PM

yes, we of the "crass jock mentality' are still like that!!

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 10:16 PM

again, its not like Fed is playing matches in this military stuff, or carrying his bag around between changeovers, doing his nails on chanegovers...

all the world will see is him battling it out, trying for no. 15... most of the world wont even see that stupid jacket...who else but a tennis nut is gonna see this? the highlight reels feature whats going on between the lines, the rest is easily forgotten

Posted by Nam1 06/22/2009 at 10:17 PM

wow, are Friend and amanaceco the same person?

Posted by Russ 06/22/2009 at 10:18 PM

Roger that, Roger That.

Posted by vetmama 06/22/2009 at 10:19 PM

"if all the focus is on his outfit, that's a sign that his game is on track."

sblily @ 5:05
Wow, I didn't even think about this! I should be enjoying the complete lack of the "What's wrong with Fed?" hysteria we were treated to this time last year (and earlier this year).

I need to remember that everything in Fedland is looking so much better these days.
Thanks girl! You made my day.:)

Posted by Grant 06/22/2009 at 10:19 PM

"So is that why everyone at Wimbledon has to wear wite?"

Because that's the tournament dress code.

"Because Roger is waring white?"


"If so, why Roger? If Rafa is the defending champion, shouldn't he get to decide what the other players wear?"

No, but that would be a cool idea. The tennis equivalent of bridesmaids' gowns.

"So they should wear pink, since Rafa is the champion and #1 player int he world?"

Again, cool idea - 'because I won last year, we all have to wear my colour of choice: fluorescent green. Suckers. p.s. I'm not playing this year.'

Posted by Oases Orfell (Rafa's regenerating for USO!) 06/22/2009 at 10:20 PM

That Roger: Why?

Posted by Roger That 06/22/2009 at 10:20 PM

Tim - all good points. It's all pointing I think to Bodo's latent homophobia.

Posted by Nam1 06/22/2009 at 10:23 PM

Ok, I am now convinced I am in some strange parallel universe after reading the last few posts.....

Grant: you slay me!! :):)

Posted by Roger That 06/22/2009 at 10:24 PM

Anyways, I think I'm not going to read Bodo's columns anymore. Maybe Steve Tignor will be more insightful then this crap.

Posted by JohnC 06/22/2009 at 10:25 PM

This seems to about the masculinist insecurities of (American) males of a certain age, and the loaded language (weenie!) and references (including to Tilden) leave an unpleasant aftertaste for those of us who don't share the prejudices on display here.

If the concern is about the standing of tennis with the American public, then that should be seriously discussed rather than trivialised through some proxy discussion about "fashion", whether it be Fed's jacket or Rafa's pink shirt.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 10:25 PM

lol Oasis, do some homework, WImbledon has been all white dress since the 1920s, how can you not know this?

and yes, tennis as a game DID exist before Rafa showed up, its got a whole history, in fact!

Posted by siggy 06/22/2009 at 10:27 PM

Roger that, awwww... come on, a little levity never hurt anybody!

Sam, ;) LTNT! Heady and giddy and nerve-wracking times for the faithful (as in fed fanatics), no? ;)

Posted by Nam1 06/22/2009 at 10:28 PM

Tim, I think Oases, not Oasis , is a hoaxster.
He cannot possbly be serious!!

Posted by Annie 06/22/2009 at 10:29 PM

Geez, lighten up Bodo! :-) Thank goodness Roger doesn't take things so seriously. It's a bit of fun, and in the end who cares? He's a relaxed, happy, individual living his life and people are drawn to him. Chill out. There doesn't have to be layers of meaning (or an article) in everything.

Posted by CL 06/22/2009 at 10:31 PM

Philosophically speaking, which is worse;

The man on the wedding cake or the man in the gray flannel suit? Does the former connote a je ne sais quoi of industrial strength marzipan and the latter a declining bourgeois, crumbling beneath the weight of insipid commentary and bromides of decaying expectations?

I ask you.

Pass the GEs...and make mine a double.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 10:33 PM

no doubt, Feddie can wear a pink tutu for all I care, he just won the French Open for God sake, career Slam, all time Slam winner and his forehand is actually finding the court again (and his serve!) ...

good times for Feddies, but i guess this whole subject is about thinking America is represented by Brad Gilbert as the typical citizen, and having to cater to that mentality..

Posted by Maplesugar (at home) 06/22/2009 at 10:35 PM

When I saw him in the aforementioned outfit, I found myself involuntarily humming the Mr. Softee jingle. Nothing wrong, friends, with selling ice cream from a truck. BTW, his favorite flavor is strawberry.


P.S. The vest has to go.

Posted by Sam 06/22/2009 at 10:35 PM

You raise some excellent points. Fed can't be tapping into some existing fashion group. That weird stuff doesn't exist on anyone else, does it? So, his intent must be to introduce new stuff to the uncouth masses, unless, as you suggest, it's all a big joke, and soon he'll tell us he really didn't mean it and that he's really one of us. Or not.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 10:36 PM

im gonna go back three years to this exact thread and cut and past random comments, just for fun


Posted by Maplesugar (at home) 06/22/2009 at 10:37 PM

Sam, should we make a wish? We both posted at 10:35.

Posted by Sam 06/22/2009 at 10:38 PM

siggy: Yeah, it has been a while ... I'd say more giddy than nerve-wracking, after the French Open!

Maplesugar: Damn, now you made me hungry for ice cream ... ;-)

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/22/2009 at 10:39 PM

Roger That:

1) See my post to Brittany. If anyone thinks that I, as an American, LIKE the dominance and prominence of American television/mass media/cultural iconography, the opposite is true. I hate them.

That is, ironically, why I want Federer--a man with a very different way of carrying oneself as an athlete (understated), a man (not sexually promiscuous), and as a world citizen (speaks many tongues, thinks beyond his own borders, reaches out to tennis fans across the globe, does charity work for the UN and in South Africa)--to enjoy more stature in America.

I wrote a personal reflection/tribute on Roger after the 2006 US Open. Sam, I know, read it, and so did a few other Federistas, probably Tim.

Roger That and Anyone Else Who Mistakenly Thinks Pete attacked Gays and Lesbians In This Post:

2) Bodo is not slurring or slandering gays and lesbians. He just isn't. He's not going there, he won't go there, and he had no intention of ever going there.

The principal point Pete made (to repeat it, since you've joined this thread in midstream) is that a person who wants to be an ambassador for tennis should make his clothing/marketing/branding accessible to fans, certainly in terms of the rhythms and needs of everyday life. Make clothing usable and recognizable on a regular basis within ordinary, middle-class contexts; make clothing available to the public and affordable when one does make it available; and, finally, produce something consistent with one's inspiring competitive drive and prodigious personal achievements.

There's nothing about gay or lesbian identity that Pete made light of; he referenced manhood, but he did so by making a connection with athletic prowess and the middle-class joe-public consumer. Sexual orientation just didn't enter into the picture.

Go back and look at the metaphors and images Pete uses:

A) Love Boat (Gavin McLeod character). Not a gay man, just a mellow heterosexual captain on a ship in a relaxed environment.

B) Don Ho. A crooner, but not a gay one. Popular with older ladies.

C) Andre Agassi in the early 1990s. No gay or lesbian association there, either.

D) The mummsy-loving country club dandy. Not a gay man, but an upper-crust mama's boy who wants to marry into riches and lord himself over a palatial, sprawling estate with abundant creature comforts. But oh, very much someone who wants to bed a woman at night. (Golf ain't a gay-flavored sport; it's the sport of corporations and Republicans. Another reason why I hugely prefer tennis, albeit not the main one...)

E) The prototypical snob. Highbrow tastes, but highbrow in the way a 19th- or 20th-century elitist would find attractive. There's no sexual identity connection to be found there, either.

F) Anna Wintour. Nothing about gayness or lesbian-ness. Just highbrow as opposed to common-man-oriented.

G) Ralph Lauren shirts. Ralph Lauren is a longstanding brand that far preceded any discussions of gayness, in America or anywhere else.

H) Brideshead Revisited. Oddly enough, this might come the closest to any hint of gay identity, but the world didn't know about Evelyn Waugh's tortured sexual journey until after he died. Brideshead Revisited is not recognized as a core part of the gay/lesbian literary canon; it's simply viewed as a piece of superb literary quality within a distinctly British context from bygone days.

All in all, much as cries of "Racism! Racism!" fly far too frequently in certain discussions, cries of "GAY-BASHING! GAY-BASHING!" are being aired far too readily in this case.

Discussions that are perceived to be about race are quite often focused on CLASS DISTINCTIONS instead. Similarly, what some perceive to be gay-bashing by Pete is actually a very socioeconomically-grounded and--moreover--THOUGHTFUL article (whether it's "correct" or not is beside the point; Pete's job is to stimulate some good thinking, debate, and discussion here) on class identity in tennis, and how Roger Federer expands that sense of class or not.

Anyone thinking that Pete is bashing gays, let alone talking about sexual identity in general, is sorely mistaken. The content of the text just doesn't allow for such an interpretation. Other posters and comment producers have weighed in and said that Fed's outlook is gay or that it projects gayness, but Pete never initiated that line of thought or gave any sanction/approval to it.

Posted by Sam 06/22/2009 at 10:39 PM

Mapes: 10:35 wasn't me ...

Posted by CL 06/22/2009 at 10:40 PM

Annie - but see, you have missed the whole point that only a few here have so cleverly sussed out. Fed is dressing in LAYERS so there MUST be layers of meaning!!! Really, if it had JUST been the jacket OR the vest...but both? Next year I hear he is topping off his kit with a parka and a propeller beanie and by reading which way the wind blows the propeller we will be able to predict the stock market, volcanos and the World Cup. Not, alas, hedgehog population growth or the price Coco Puffs.

Posted by Maplesugar (at home) 06/22/2009 at 10:41 PM

Sheesh. Sorry, Sam.

Posted by Blake 06/22/2009 at 10:42 PM

Pete... ever thought about upgrading Rafael Nadal from 'Jet Boy' to 'Rocket Man' given his age and recent heroics? :) (past sporting month aside, R.I.P Rafa's knees)

Posted by Arun 06/22/2009 at 10:43 PM

> Yeah, can't say that I like the outfit, but agree that it's harmless.
Sam: My eyes say that the 'harmless' part is not true until the actual match starts. ;) Did you see that around the netpost BH today?

Posted by Sam 06/22/2009 at 10:44 PM

LOL Arun, and of course I saw that shot!

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 10:45 PM

you know i wonder if Fed has ever been asked about his gay fan base (the same could be said for Rafa, of course) ... I wonder what he would say about it? i think he doesnt even have a clue this outfit could be seen as kinda gay, he's a Euro who just doesnt think that way, this discomfort is an American thing, u know football and beer type stuff ...

but can every jock just default into Andy Roddick mode, who dresses exactly as most american sports fans would expect him to? id far prefer Roger's choices to that baggy polo, backwards baseball hat blandness..

Posted by CL 06/22/2009 at 10:46 PM

Matt Z - why do you persist in telling people what Pete is really thinking? Saying? And where he is going? And where he is not. Pete is a writer, and though I disagree with most of this post, he is more than capable of expressing himself. And, with the occasional rim-shot exception, most people who are reading and posting here seem perfectly capable of understanding what Pete is and is not saying and expressing their own feelings of agreement or disagreement.

If you can't stop lecturing us, could you at least manage to do it in a less condescending way? Please? Thank you.

Posted by sblily (Meh > Wheeeeeeeee!!!/Vamos Maymo!) 06/22/2009 at 10:48 PM

vetmama - Glad I could help!

Given all the WTF-ness going on with my fellas (Rafa, Nole, Sauce, Safin, etc.) at the moment, I would LOVE to be dissecting the deeper meanings behind their oncourt attire! Sit back and enjoy it, I say. :)

Posted by evie 06/22/2009 at 10:49 PM

Vishal -- who is probably long gone: I completely agree with your comment. Pete's post reeks of homophobia, which diminishes the sport, not to mention himself. As you said, Conners and McEnroe can act appalling on the court, but it's Fed's 5-minute outfit once a year that does damage to the sport.

(And btw, where is the post about how Sharapova and Serena are killing the sport and turning it into an unaffordable elitist one with their jackets?)

The reason tennis is not doing well in the U.S. is because we don't have a dominant U.S. player. It's pretty simple.

And in terms of affordability, there are teenagers in the inner city spending $200 on tennis shoes for the basketball court so they can be like Mike. or Kobe. or Shaq. Not much outrage as those champions hype their wares to low-income fans all year long.

Posted by kiwibee 06/22/2009 at 10:50 PM

Gosh. Why are some people criticizing Roger's outfit being "weenie"? I think there great. Perhaps Roger should wear something like pirates of Caribbean inspired outfit next year and pysh all his critics.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 10:51 PM

Matt i konw u put a lot of effort into that post, but i think without question there's just a general atttiude that comes across here that pretty clearly denigrates anyting beyond the polo shirt, baseball hat jock look as needing to 'man up' ...

I still say it drives some crazy that a guy so tough, so successful, so brilliantly talented, the top athlete in the world several times over, sees nothing wrong with or even gets some fun out of fashion and 3 piece tennis warm ups ...

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/22/2009 at 10:52 PM

Well, this has absorbed me a great deal. I need to eat dinner at a reasonable hour. (Can't eat dinner less than 3 hours before bedtime, ya know?)

I'll check back in later. It's been fun, and I think the debate did touch on some meaningful subjects in a serious way. I challenge those of you who think Pete displayed homophobia and/or rabid anti-Federer sentiment here to rethink your positions, based on:

A) A careful reassessment of the text, particularly the metaphors and associations used; snobbery, country-club dandy-ness, mama's boy qualities, and Brideshead Revisited touches are not gay/lesbian identities; they are class-centric identities involving heterosexual men who like the good life.

B) The realization that Pete, whether you agree with him or not, thinks that Nike and golf have done a better job presenting Tiger Woods to the world than has been the case with tennis and Federer. Pete is saying as much because he naturally, obviously, loves the hail out of this sport and wants it to do better in the public view. It follows, then, that Pete appreciates Roger and all that he means to tennis.

After all, what's the old saying? "You only get really angry at the people you really care about."

Am I not right on that point?

Pete would never write such a post to a bozo like Jeff Tarango or a weirdo like Nicolas Kiefer. Only a few men could ever merit such stern but heartfelt and well-intentioned scrutiny. Fed tops the list, especially with Rafa sidelined due to injury.

See you after my dinner.

Posted by Jake 06/22/2009 at 10:53 PM

Tim said:

"I still say it drives some crazy that a guy so tough, so successful, so brilliantly talented, the top athlete in the world several times over, sees nothing wrong with or even gets some fun out of fashion and 3 piece tennis warm ups ... "

Tim, You hit the nail on its head!

Posted by federerfan 06/22/2009 at 10:54 PM

Tim :) :) (re: random posting from 3 yrs ago)

One thing to be said for you, it takes a lot to get your spirit down! esply. since this FO.

Posted by CL 06/22/2009 at 10:56 PM

Guess not.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 11:00 PM

I just never thought I would see the day Fed would acutally win the French, so all this seems fleetingly amusing at this point, though I get irked when Fed's masculinity gets sneered at...

I find it rather flat that Rafa isnt playing, i badly wanted to see a rafa roddick wimby tussle and a murray semifinal, he finally had an interesting draw and boom, he cant or wont play... letdown is not a strong enough word..

Posted by Matt Zemek 06/22/2009 at 11:02 PM


If people didn't attack Pete in such a nasty and full-frontal manner, I wouldn't stick myself in the middle. But since it happens quite regularly here--and sadly so--there's an evident and considerable need to explain nuances of arguments that are getting lost on a great number of people.

If you can understand things without need of my explanation, fine. That never has been, isn't now, and never will be my problem or concern. To my knowledge, I have never said that you specifically are incapable of higher cognitive functioning, and have never questioned your specific capabilities as an individual. When I explain things, I explain them to the audience as a whole, unless I single out people at the top of my posts.

It's a free country (well, at least in some respects; Obama is following Bush administration protocol on some civil liberties issues.... I digress). You can scroll past my posts, a perfectly valid and legitimate thing to do.

I will always explain concepts. That's in my blood as a freelance writer and seasonal sports columnist, and--moreover--as a Catholic. If I see harmful trends or errant words flooding a computer screen, especially at a blogsite I've come to call a third home over the years, it is a moral duty for me to reduce harsh speech, ease corrosive tensions, and generally promote a better brand of brotherhood and sisterhood among the fellows of TennisWorld, in the attempt to produce an even more positive experience for all concerned.

Thank you, and I hope that we're square on this issue for the long haul.

Now, about my dinner...

Posted by ian 06/22/2009 at 11:02 PM

really unworthy of you, bodo. there comes a point wherein you protest too much. you've reached it.

Posted by Azhdaja 06/22/2009 at 11:02 PM

Hey, Bodo, You missed something crucial again!
You want to make a man of Federer ("Man up, call and ask Tiger about it.")!? Aint work.

What you failed to realize is that this outfit fits Federer's mentality the best way possible. Everyone wears what is in accordance to their mind. I am sort of disappointed you didn't realised this. In order to help you better understand what i mean is: you just ask yourself a question: Would I ever wear the same what Roger does today? And then you'll see my point.

And to deeper analyse your article: it's obvious that you're quite disappointed that Roger is not the type of man (personality) you'd like him to be. wELL, Bodo, open your eyes. The truth might hurt, but the sooner we realised it, the better for us. (myself)


Posted by Corleone 06/22/2009 at 11:04 PM

Nothing wrong about Roger’s outfit. What do Americans know about fashion and being stylish anyways?

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

Irony alert: Who's the elitist now?

"there's an evident and considerable need to explain nuances of arguments that are getting lost on a great number of people."

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

KittyMac, People in the USA SAY they want their sports stars to act like regular guys, but then when they do act like regular guys, people in the USA stomp their feet and say "That guy is BORING!" lol Americans never know what they want, trust me. If you are very fashionable, then you are a "snob" or elitist or "metrosexual", if you don't dress well, you need a fashion makeover, if you act like you have money and buy expensive things, you are a show off and insensitive to the poor, if you have a ton of money and don't spend it on expensive things and walk around in jeans, you are a cheap skinflint and ungenerous and look like a bum.... UGH..............

Posted by rafadoc 06/22/2009 at 11:07 PM

CL said: "Matt Z - why do you persist in telling people what Pete is really thinking? Saying? And where he is going? And where he is not. Pete is a writer, and though I disagree with most of this post, he is more than capable of expressing himself. And, with the occasional rim-shot exception, most people who are reading and posting here seem perfectly capable of understanding what Pete is and is not saying and expressing their own feelings of agreement or disagreement.

If you can't stop lecturing us, could you at least manage to do it in a less condescending way? Please? Thank you."

I couldn't agree more. I have the ability to not only read, but think for myself AND, I think Pete realizes this. Matt, you become more and more condescending and I cannot help but think Pete himself, a guy who "tells it how it is" would find your "interpretations" offensive. Let Pete tell it how he wants to and let us "free thinking" folks bat the issues around ourselves. Thanks. :)

Posted by Cosi 06/22/2009 at 11:08 PM

Kudos to the poster that said Tiger Woods is dressed like a DAD instead of a fashion role model, because that's exactly how he seems to me, very conservatively dressed, like a dad.

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

cosi, david beckham is a dad, no? he doesnt dress like an old duffer without a mirror in the house

Posted by Vishal 06/22/2009 at 11:12 PM

@Matt Zemek,
How about the reference to Big Bill Tilden? How about this statement "What next, lipstick and mom's pumps?" ? It is pretty clear to me what Bodo is trying to say, without being too politically incorrect. He has himself admitted that he thinks of Federer as a girly-man, in an earlier post. Tell me frankly, what is the first word that comes to mind when you see Roger in that outfit? And the answer is NOT elitist. It is *girly-man*/*gay busboy*/*Liberace* (to pick up a few samplers from various tennis forums). So let us talk about what this post is really all about.

The way people perceive masculinity is closely linked to homophobia and gay identity. I really appreciate Roger for being man enough to flaunt his feminine side. And let his tennis racquet do all the talking if people question his masculinity.

And seriously, where does a respected journalist like Pete get off, calling a great champion like Roger "a weenie"? This is trashy page six journalism.

@evie Thanks! Still lurking around, reading different opinions here. Glad to see some people agreeing with me.

Posted by Cosi 06/22/2009 at 11:15 PM

Posted by Nam1 06/22/2009 @ 7:26 PM


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"

No Nam, you still didn't get it. I said the only guys who would be drawn to tennis due to Nadal's biceps and body revealing outfits would most likely be GAY men... do you get it now? If you still don't get it, how about if I said, the only people who would be drawn to Tennis due to Nadal's biceps and body revealing clothes would be people of any gender that like to sleep with men......... Not exactly the people Peter is worried that Roger won't draw to tennis because his clothes are too fancy and fashionable if you read his article here. My intent and impact about this were just fiiiiiiiiiine I think......... unless you find a reason to be offended.

Posted by Cosi 06/22/2009 at 11:20 PM

KittyMac, please do not let this blog or the comments disturb you. Believe me, Roger is a HUGE draw in America, he's extremely popular here, one of the most popular tennis players I've ever seen that was not an American. This article is the opinion of ONE WRITER, not necessarily consensus for all Amerians or even half of them, same with teh comments of the posters, small sampling of opinions, not the be all answer of what Americans think,. No doubt there are American men that "don't get" Federer and the way he loooks and dresses, and because of that there are alot of AMerican men that don't appeal to alot of American women because they have no concept of style, don't always have good manners, sometimes aren't even aware of basic chivalry, and, to be blunt, look like crap with bad haircuts , boring clothes and overweight unhealthy bodies.

Posted by Azhdaja 06/22/2009 at 11:21 PM

Hey Bodo, maybe the MAN has some female hormons in the body? So, it's not her fault. The mother nature, you know.

Posted by Cosi 06/22/2009 at 11:23 PM

Posted by Sherlock 06/22/2009 @ 9:50 PM

I wonder what Connors would have done if an opponent warmed up looking like he was going to toast the bride and groom? :)"

He would have just warmed up to serve in his shorter than short girly hot pants that clung very tightly to his backside, and flipped his feminine looking tapered mullet haircut with straight across bangs that looked suitable for a 12 year old girl.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 11:25 PM

funny lets look at the last three Slams, starting with the Open... it was a staunchly Federer crowd, start to finish, they got him through and cheered him like he was Agassi or something...

We all saw what happened in Paris, the crowd was even wilder for Fed, standing O's when he walked to the court...

I dont think Fed has to worry too much about his popularity, in America or elsewhere...has any other player gotten such universal support in Slams in countries where he's not even from? he's gonna be a huge fan favorite the rest of his career, already a legend still playing at his peak, these are sweeet years, three piece suits or not

Posted by Pspace (Lestat de SW19) 06/22/2009 at 11:26 PM

MattZ, If Pete was interested in making a nuanced argument, he would make it nuanced. He knows his audience. You may see certain subtleties in it, but these are your interpretation. Some of us like to look at the tone of the piece before reacting. A nuanced article would get a nuanced response. No point in responding to a broadswoard with a rapier, unless you're satisfied with a 13-7 H2H.

What CL is objecting to is your presentation of your interpretation as the real questions of interest. It may be to you, but not necessarily to the rest of us. Pete himself has mentioned in the past that he likes to prod Fed fans. So, there're real questions of how much of this is reasoned opinion vs lighthearted (or not so lighthearted) provocation.

And, for some of us, it really is just a jacket, vest, and a freakin' set of pants. We don't really concern ourselves with the "message" such things send, and the argument there is we do not believe that it's relevant to the ppl we interact with. No claims to comfort in position of tennis in the American sports market yada yada.

Posted by mcakron 06/22/2009 at 11:26 PM

I kept waiting for a litter of poodles to emerge from that murse.

Ok, on a slightly more serious note, I'd much prefer Fed to come out to CC with a simple sweatshirt over his tidy-whities (heck, maybe that gray warmup he was wearing at his presser), and yeah, the whole Captain Cruiseship ensemble is laughable, but aren't we going a little too far in attaching so much importance to it?

Look, Fed's a flaming meterosexual. We all know this. Who cares? I mean if we're worried about the Big Bill Tilden (wink, wink) comparisons, wouldn't Rafa's little Mediterranean beach boy outfit of clamdiggers and cut-off t-shirts require further inspection?

Guess I see it as one big joke. Does Fed look like a fool? You bet. Would I like to see him dump the crap in a trash can tonight and set it aflame with lighter fluid? Sure. But it proabably ain't happening, and ultimately, it's between the lines that counts. Looked manly enough to me there.

Posted by mad about fed 06/22/2009 at 11:26 PM

my sister and i just watched roger walk on court. she says, "wow, all he needs is a guitar", apperently a reference to hugh grant in his music movie with drew barrimore.

i think it's just an outfit no more no less. i look forward to opening day to see what the players are wearing after that it's all about the tennis. i could care less what roger or anyone else for that matter, is wearing as long as he [roger] is winning.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 11:27 PM

cosi, dont forget the tube socks Connors used to pull up to his knees, which he did in his heyday.. pretty manly stuff, ha!

Posted by d'alba 06/22/2009 at 11:27 PM

Pete, I often have complains about your posts, especially when it is about your pick for a tournament (thank God you didn't predict any thing for this SJ19)... but this post is just taking words out of my mouth.

Recently I went to a Nike shop, with the intention to buy a pair of sneakers. I then saw that Rafa pink shirt, and then that Roger T-shirt with the HUGE RF logo, and then the cap.
O-M-G, why on earth would I be wearing such an alarming stupid outfit.
I went out of the shop, not even looking for sneakers.
Tennis is not a parody, and I pity all the "fans" that are focussing on this absurd side part of that magnificent game. Roger wake up, and do the right thing. You are being used, as rightfully stated by Pete.

Posted by Cosi 06/22/2009 at 11:27 PM

The way people perceive masculinity is closely linked to homophobia and gay identity. I really appreciate Roger for being man enough to flaunt his feminine side. And let his tennis racquet do all the talking if people question his masculinity."

VIshal, what I see is that Federer is so SECURE in his manhood, he's not afraid to wear something fashionable or wear a flashy gym bag on court, and these people that go loony about what he's wearing because they think it's too feminine, probably have fears and hangups about their own manhood, or perhaps they just could never look as sexy as Roger in what he wears and they are green with envy, who knows. I think alot of men are jealous of men like Roger and their looks and style, becase unfortuantely alot of guys just wouldn't look good in anything fashionable, and don't have great looks and features like Roger does,. Men can be jealous of other men's looks and sense of style the same way women can be jealous of other women. Just think of all the hate directed at Anna Kournikova and Maria Sharapova, so much of it is pure envy and nothing else.

Posted by jb... (i miss wimby live!!) 06/22/2009 at 11:31 PM

good heavens. i know i should be taking this thread very seriously, but good god, its a JACKET, WAISTCOAT AND PANTS. that are worn for a few minutes. just dang.

cosi - your 11:23 still has me giggling. nicely done. :)

and on that note, i'm crashing.

Posted by Cosi 06/22/2009 at 11:31 PM

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

cosi, david beckham is a dad, no? he doesnt dress like an old duffer without a mirror in the house"

ROFL! Indeed, Becks does not dress like an old duffer, and I wish less men did. And funny just a year or so ago, Roger and David Beckham made the top five of a list of "sexiest men".... I don't think Tiger Woods made the list.

Posted by Tim (2009 Year of Red Rogie ) 06/22/2009 at 11:32 PM

well Fed is being used by his employer, who pays him millions of dollars to do stuff like anyone out there not 'used' by their employer for the employers benefit in some way?

Posted by vetmama 06/22/2009 at 11:33 PM


You had to figure that all that positive reader feedback from the "Sprezzatura" post had to eventually rebound and smack you in the face.

You have succeeded in stirring up a hornet's nest, people are writing missives/missiles about homophobia and the American male's lack of fashion, and posters are throwing bricks at you personally.

The natural order of things at TW has been restored.

Posted by GVGirl 06/22/2009 at 11:35 PM

My pal "Kourtin' Karen" calls Fed's Wimbywear the white "Sgt. Pepper" outfit. LOL

Nike- the same folks who made Rafa wear that pink shirt.

Posted by vetmama - RF FTW!!! (please?) 06/22/2009 at 11:36 PM

"A nuanced article would get a nuanced response. No point in responding to a broadswoard with a rapier, unless you're satisfied with a 13-7 H2H."

LOL, Pspace!
Great, that.:)

Posted by Crazy-for-Rog 06/22/2009 at 11:39 PM

Matt Zemek: "Bodo is not slurring or slandering gays and lesbians. He just isn't. He's not going there, he won't go there, and he had no intention of ever going there. The principal point Pete made ..."

Are we certain that Matt Z isn't really Pete Bodo ?

Posted by sam hill 06/22/2009 at 11:41 PM

For fun.

Posted by JohnC 06/22/2009 at 11:42 PM

@Matt Z

Like Vishal, I noticed the omission of Tilden in your apologia. There is no other interpretation than homophobia for this reference, particularly since Big Bill is actually credited with doing more than any other player to break down the effete image of tennis in the 20s and 30s and his homosexuality was not made public until after WWII.

I have no idea of Boda's motivations (and neither do you), it is rather a question of the objective effect of his words. Exhortations to "man up" and preposterous "weenie" accusations mark the post as a backward and insular rant from a typically insecure and ageing American male.

Posted by rafadoc 06/22/2009 at 11:42 PM

^^ What Pspace said. ;-)

Posted by Oases Orfell (Rafa's regenerating for USO!) 06/22/2009 at 11:46 PM

LOL Tin! No, I have 2 much homework 2 do for school. I just read here 2 have some fun. Can't wait until Rafa plays again. He wuddn't be cot dead in what Federer is waring! He's a reel man like Pete always says! LOL!

Posted by Vie 06/22/2009 at 11:47 PM

Roger Federer wages war on fashion at Wimbledon
(Marc Aspland/The Times)
Patrick Kidd
...Presumably by military he meant that the jacket has lots of pockets — four, no less, including one on a sleeve — and epaulettes. The pockets could be useful for keeping balls in, of course, but Federer removed his outer layers before play began. The only conflict he was interested in was the war on (unforced) error.

You would not get far in Afghanistan wearing an outfit such as that in which Federer strolled on to Centre Court yesterday. Even if the all-white uniform evaded the attention of any Taleban snipers, their gaze would surely be caught by the sun glinting off the gold ends of Federer’s luggage. That bag looked like something Paris Hilton would take to a spa. Perhaps there was a chihuahua inside. Not only did the puffy gold ends make it resemble a giant wrapped luxury chocolate, but there was a showy monogram on the side, looking as if it belonged on a perfume bottle.

Maybe that is his next project. Eau de Fed, the whiff of a winner. To paraphrase W. S. Gilbert: for his military knowledge, though he’s plucky and adventury, has only been brought down to the beginning of the century; but still, in matters vegetable, animal and mineral, he is the very model of a modern major champion.

Just one thing, though, Roger. Your outfit is certainly modern but you are getting old for this. Good grief, you are about to turn 28 and become a father. Next year, wear corduroys. White, naturally.

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