Wednesday 26 September 2018

New style but same story for Federer

Roger Federer plays a forehand during his routine first round victory Photo: Getty
Roger Federer plays a forehand during his routine first round victory Photo: Getty

Oliver Brown

It said much about the insouciance with which Roger Federer squashed Dusan Lajovic, for the loss of just eight games and scarcely a bead of sweat, that the most urgent talking point arose from his sartorial selections for this, his 20th straight appearance in the Wimbledon main draw.

Gone was the Nike swoosh, and in its place the Uniqlo square. Seldom has there been such a flutter over the emperor's new clothes. Despite the limitations of the All England Club's "predominantly white" colour palette, Federer has always treated Wimbledon as his catwalk.

Whether in his Fred Perry trousers in 2008, or his gold-edged cardigan the following summer, he has found the place an inspiration for all manner of ostentatious retro-chic.

Few lines have ever proved so lucrative, though, as his latest offering, with Uniqlo guaranteeing Federer a staggering €258m over the next 10 years, adding the clause that he can keep collecting the money once he stops playing.

The Japanese manufacturer chose the moment of his championship defence here to issue a press release confirming that it had poached him as a "global brand ambassador".

Federer will be almost 47 in a decade's time, and unlikely to be tearing through Wimbledon's opening rounds with quite the gusto of old, but he can sleep easy that his future as a middle-aged fashion icon is assured.

In many ways, the deal is a peculiar one. For a start, Federer emphatically does not need the money, already boasting an endorsement portfolio that spans Credit-Suisse, Wilson, Mercedes-Benz, Rolex, Lindt, Moet & Chandon and NetJets. Even his deal with Italian pasta-maker Barillo is worth over €34m.

Then there is the intriguing detail that Nike have retained ownership of the 'RF' logo, around which he has built an entire business in monogrammed mystique. So, have he and Nike fallen out? Federer did little to scotch that theory when he emphasised how keen he was to have the logo back. "I hope that sooner of later, Nike can be nice and helpful in the process to bring it over to me," he said. "It's something that is very important to me, and to the fans."

The only piece of Federer real estate that kept the traditional insignia yesterday was his footwear, with his next shoe sponsorship yet to be negotiated. "I have deep roots with Nike. It has been a great relationship over the last 20 years. But everything is open."

There was, in among it all, an easy 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 victory. (© Daily Telegraph, London)

Irish Independent

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