It doesn’t matter if you’re a real fan of tennis who is up to date with all the results in Great Slam, or you happen to see some extracts of the matches out of the corner of your eye while watching Australian Open Live Stream. What is impossible to overlook even for the layman of tennis is the exclusive clothing and rackets that the top tennis players use. Tennis is one of the most exclusive sports, commonly referred to as the “sport for the rich,” and so is the tennis kit.
Each year when the new season starts, we see our favorite players in the latest fashionable outfits of brands that sponsor them. The biggest brands always pick the top professionals and invest vast sums of money in representing them. Hence, sponsorship is an inherent part of the whole tennis business, and the way a brand is represented on the court is crucial for brand loyalty and a huge source of income for the players.
Here’s what you should know about the biggest brands in the world of tennis:
It shouldn’t surprise anyone that one of the most lucrative and well-known companies invests a lot in tennis. In fact, we can see most of the top tennis players with the Nike logo on their shirts. In 2020, almost half of the top 30 women in tennis was represented by this company, and 7 out of 30 best male players.
The sums of the sponsorship contracts are enormous. The contract between Roger Federer, who’s been representing the brand for more than ten years, has been priced for $10 million that Nike pays him each year. The outfits that Roger Federer wears at the tournaments are fashionable and of the highest class, and Nike wants to be associated with this symbol of tennis.
However, it’s not the only top star that Nike sponsors. Like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal has had a contract with this company for years now, together with the top female player – Serena Williams. Moreover, Naomi Osaka, the WTA leader in 2019 and two-time Grand Slam champion, dumped Adidas that represented her for years and switched to Nike’s sponsorship by signing a deal with the company lasting to 2025.
It looks like Nike was paying millions of dollars to be associated with tennis that is an exclusive sport, so the message behind it is as simple as their motto – just do it – wear Nike clothes and be like your favorite tennis stars.
After Nike, Adidas, the other well-known brand associated with sport and athletes, also sponsors plenty of tennis players who run around the court in their newest sports shoes. Adidas contracts with women are worth noting, as deals with female players are usually valued less than contracts with men. In 2020 Adidas represented 4 out of 30 top female players. Naomi Osaka, who switched to Nike after the annual contract with Adidas lapsed, in 2018 signed a deal priced at $8,5 million. Such huge deals don’t often happen in female tennis, so Adidas contributed to the discussion over the players’ value based on gender.
The top players that the brand represents also include Dominik Thiem and Tomas Berdych. Additionally, Karolina Muchova, who is almost in the top 30 tennis players, switched to Adidas this year. Interestingly, a trained eye can catch Novak Djokovic playing in the Adidas shoes, but, as he claims, there is no sponsorship contract between him and the company.
Yonex is a Japanese brand supporting young athletes that is also immediately associated with tennis. Plenty of top players switch to their shoes and rackets. At the Australian Open in 2019, Yonex outdid Wilson and Head, two other popular and recognizable brands, as 27% of boys were using Yonex equipment.
The company combines style with the technology in the equipment; hence it’s commonly picked by the top players such as Naomi Osaka, who used their rackets as a kid. Their main aim is to provide their equipment to young athletes as Danilovic, who also used their rackets when he was ten, and then to keep those players close. Yonex sponsors Stan Wawrinka, who continuously appears with their rackets and shoes on the court on each tournament.
These are only three of the top brands that try to establish themselves as household names in tennis. We can’t forget about the sponsorship of Uniqlo, who represented both masters – Federer and Djokovic. However, for now, Nike, Adidas and Yonex dominate the tennis industry, signing huge contracts with players who wear their clothing and use their rackets.
The deals are of great value for the brands who search for representatives who can be associated with success and professionalism. It’s not without reason they pay the top stars such vast sums of money. It’s not even about showing the newest collection on the court – it’s about the message that the brand wants to convey and the extent to which it wants to be prestigious.