Tennis players are often sought after by leading brands around the world. These players are the highest earning sports personalities in the world and compete at the highest levels in the biggest destinations across the globe in six continents.
The top players have had a tremendous impact on fans and spectators. The thought of a player doesn't just evoke his or her face or personality, but also the racquet they use, the outfit they don, the shoes they wear, etc.
Tennis' impact has been profound in the sporting world and brands always seek the most marketable players to promote their products. Sporting goods in tennis comprise the players' outfits, shoes, accessories like bandanas and wrist bands, the racquets they use, the strings on the racquet, etc. It could also include other apparel and branding that players can use or endorse on the tennis court, like watches or logos of other sponsors on their attire.
Over the years, many tennis players have had long-lasting relationships with the brands they endorse. Let's take a look at five such players and the brands they will always be associated with:
#1 Stan Wawrinka - Yonex
Three-time Grand Slam champion Stan Wawrinka is an all-Yonex man. The Swiss signed a deal with Yonex in 2012 and has since then been one of its premier faces. In 2014, the former World No. 3 signed another four-year deal with the Japanese sporting brand worth USD 20 million.
In 2021, Yonex also designed a special outfit for Wawrinka as part of their 75th year celebration. Wawrinka uses a Yonex vCore 95D with which he strikes that majestic single-handed backhand.
Be it the infamous boxer shorts of the 2015 French Open or the all-pink 2016 US Open outfit, Yonex and Wawrinka have had a winning combination for a decade and don't look to be stopping anytime soon.
#2 Andy Murray - Head
Andy Murray has used a Head racquet since his earliest days on tour. A 2006 report by The Guardian reported that Murray had a £1 million deal with Head where he used a custom-made racquet with the brand's logo on it.
The two-time Wimbledon champion has been one of the leading faces of Head, a brand that has been manufacturing tennis racquets since 1960s. Murray uses the Head PT57A2 (a.k.a. Head Pro Tour 630). This racquet was previously used by Thomas Muster and is in fact also known as the Thomas Muster racquet.
Murray has experimented with the weight of his racquet ever since his hip surgery and is still optimistic for a comeback at the highest echelons of the game with his old trusted weapon.
Murray also had a lucrative deal with Under Armor between 2014 and 2018. The Brit reportedly had a $25 million deal with the American clothing brand. During this phase of his tennis career, Murray reached four Major finals, winning the 2016 Wimbledon championships.
#3 Novak Djokovic - Lacoste, Peugeot
Novak Djokovic has been the face of many brands like Peugeot, Seiko, Jacob's Creek, ANZ, Learjet, Audemars Piguet and Omega.
The Serb was initially sponsored by Adidas and Sergio Tacchini for his apparel. The rapid rise of the former World No. 1 in 2011 attracted Japanese brand Uniqlo as a clothing sponsor. They had a successful partnership that lasted for five years up until the 2017 Rome Masters.
Peugeot signed a three-year deal with Djokovic back in 2014, when the Serb was ranked World No. 2. In 2020, he once again partnered with the car brand to promote their electric car. The deal was terminated in 2022 at a time when Djokovic was heavily criticized for his anti-vaccination stance, but it is unclear if that was a driving force in the brand's decision to end their partnership.
Rene Lacoste, a tennis player who was nicknamed the Crocodile, invented the Lacoste brand for tennis outfits, primarily polo shirts. Established in 1933, the brand unveiled Djokovic as its brand ambassador in 2017.
Out of his 21 Major singles titles, nine were won wearing a Lacoste outfit with the trademark crocodile logo on it. The crocodile has since become synonymous with Djokovic, who elaborated on his tryst with the brand.
"I remember opening a closet of my father's and seeing different colors of Lacoste. So I was wearing that when I was younger, before I started having more commitments in terms of sponsorships. I'm glad to revisit my father's closet and to update it and upgrade it a little bit more." - Djokovic said in an interview with Esquire.
Lacoste pays Djokovic $9.4 million annually and their partnership has had a recent extension up until 2025.
#4 Rafael Nadal - Babolat, Richard Mille
Rafael Nadal was handed a Babolat racquet by his uncle Toni Nadal back when he was nine years old. Ever since, Nadal and Babolat have evolved as a brand together. The 22-time singles Slam champion used a Babolat AeroDrive in his early days. He won six Majors with that racquet.
Realizing the growing need for power and weight, while simultaneously respecting his heavy topspin style of play, Nadal switched to the Babolat AeroPro Drive Original that had an octagonal string structure and a heavier frame.
Since then, Nadal has completed the career Golden Slam, became the World No.1 for over 200 weeks and completed the La Decima (10 titles) and more at Roland Garros.
Nadal has played with an additional five grams on his racquet in the last six years. The Spaniard has been an integral part of Babolat's racquet production and testing team. In 2021, to commemorate their successful partnership that has lasted 20 years, Babolat announced a special tennis racquet series that was named after Nadal - Pure AeroRafa.
In 2007, Nadal signed a 10-year deal with Babolat. In 2019, Eric Babolat, CEO of the sporting brand, confirmed that Nadal will hold a Babolat racquet till the end of his career. Babolat's contract extends to his accessories, strings, grips and bags.
Nadal's partnership with Richard Mille dates back to 2010. The first timepiece worn by the Spaniard was priced at $525,000. The ultra light-weight, remarkable accuracy and ability to withstand 12000 grams of force is what makes these watches so special. The RM27-04 watch that Nadal wore upon winning his 21st Major title at the Australian Open was priced at a staggering $1.5 million.
#5 Roger Federer - Nike, Wilson, Rolex
Roger Federer has made it to Forbes' top 10 list of the world's highest-paid athletes every year since 2010. In 2020, he topped the list, earning $100 million from endorsements alone. For 2022, he is positioned in the seventh spot despite not playing a single tour-level tennis match.
In an illustrious career that saw him win 103 singles titles, the former World No.1 revolutionized the sport along with rivals Nadal and Djokovic. He has been a brand ambassador for numerous brands - Gillette, Wilson, Barilla, Moet & Chandon, Credit Suisse, Rolex, Mercedes-Benz, On running, Lindt, Nike, Uniqlo, Maurice Lacroix and more.
When it comes to tennis, he uses a Wilson racquet and bag. For a major portion of his tennis career, the Swiss wore outfits designed by Nike before switching to Uniqlo in 2018. Federer earns $3.5 million with Wilson and is said to have a lifetime contract with them, a deal which began in 1998. When it comes to choosing a brand that fans will always associate Federer with, it is difficult to choose between Wilson, Nike and Rolex.
Federer won 20 Majors in his career, and in each of them he wore "swoosh bandana" outfits designed by them, including his shoes. But one reason why tennis fans will perhaps always associate Federer with Nike an inch more than Wilson is because of the RF logo.
Nike owned the RF logo for the entirety of Federer's career. Even after they parted ways, Nike retained the logo's rights for an additional two years. It was in 2020 that Federer officially announced the return of the RF logo. Nike has been with Federer since 1994, which was four years before Wilson came into the picture. The Swiss Maestro earned $12 million with Nike between 2008 to 2018.
Rolex's partnership with Federer has been equally special. Fans have associated the Swiss watch brand with the Maestro for years now. Back in 2006, the 10-year $15 million deal was one of the largest endorsement deals for an athlete. In 2016, their deal was renewed to $8 million per year. When the Swiss announced his retirement from tennis, Rolex paid a classic tribute to their ambassador.
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