Eight-time champion Roger Federer breezed into the Wimbledon second round on Monday with a 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 win over Serbia’s Dusan Lajovic. But the defending champion caused an upset of sorts off the courts, as he walked in with his new Uniqlo kit, ending months of speculation over the end of his deal with Nike.
His sponsorship with Nike expired in March and he had been playing and practicing with older kits, saying he was still in talks over his apparel sponsor. However, the top seed confirmed the end of an iconic partnership when he walked out wearing the Japanese manufacturer’s logo on Centre Court on Monday to defend his title.
Federer, who had been wearing Nike since 1994, will continue wearing their shoes as Uniqlo does not make sports footwear. The shoes, still retain the swoosh with the design signifying his eight tiles at the All England Club.
Uniqlo then tweeted that they had signed Federer as a Global Brand Ambassador at the same time, with a photo showing Federer in his new threads.
This switch also means that Federer won’t be able to sport the ‘RF’ logo as it officially belongs to Nike. Apart from the absence of the Nike swoosh, the absence of the recognizable ‘RF’ logo that has long adorned the outfits and bags of the 20-time Grand Slam champion as well as his team will be a miss for fans.
According to sources quoted by ESPN, the deal with Uniqlo is worth about $300 million and will be for 10 years. The deal also has a clause that says the Federer will continue to get the money even if he doesn’t play.
The report also stated that Nike was given its right to match the Japanese brand’s deal but declined and have started discounting its Federer related gear on their website.
Federer will be the biggest tennis player to partner with Uniqlo, who were the apparel sponsors of Novak Djokovic till 2017, after which he switched to Lacoste. Among the current lot, Japan’s Kei Nishikori was the big name on their roster.
Federer, who had worn a suit for his pre-tournament press conference and Laver Cup gear during practice at the All England Club, is playing at his 20th straight Wimbledon.
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