Goodbye Nike, Hello Uniqlo: Federer Sports New Apparel Sponsor As Wimbledon Fortnight Commences

WASHINGTON, July 2, 2018 (by Michael Dickens)

When eight-time Wimbledon champion and No. 1 seed Roger Federer walked out on Centre Court to christen the start of this year’s Wimbledon Championships and begin his title defense, he wore a new brand, Tokyo-based Uniqlo – not Nike, his long-time apparel partner. The decades-long Federer-Nike era is over. It was a stunning sight to the start of the fortnight.

The 36-year-old Federer’s all-white attire – collarless shirt with a button front, shorts, bandana-style headband, socks and warm-up jacket – had the minimal and slim-cut red and white Uniqlo logo. His white shoes, which are custom made, are still Nike and bore the familiar swoosh. Federer’s new Uniqlo kit was designed by the Japanese brand’s artistic director Christophe Lemaire.

Within minutes after the 20-time Grand Slam winner took Centre Court for his first-round match against Dusan Lajovic of Serbia, UNIQLO UK tweeted:

In a statement released by Uniqlo, Tadashi Yanai, Uniqlo’s founder and chairman, said, “Mr. Federer is one of the greatest champions in history – my respect for him goes beyond sport.

“Our partnership will be about innovation on and off the court. We share a goal of making positive change in the world, and I hope together we can bring the highest quality of life to the greatest number of people. UNIQLO will help Mr. Federer continue taking tennis to new places, while exploring innovations in a number of areas including technology and design with him.”

Federer said, “I am deeply committed to tennis and to winning championships. But like Uniqlo, I also have great love for life, culture and humanity. We share a strong passion to have a positive impact on the world around us and look forward to combining our creative endeavors.”

Soon after, Sports Illustrated executive editor and senior writer Jon Wertheim tweeted:

Wertheim added, “As we see a global athlete wearing Uniqlo, a reminder: Tokyo will host the 2020 Olympics. $30 million per year, sources tell us. Do they get into performance footwear now?”

According to Darren Rovell of ESPN.com, the deal “is worth more than $300 million guaranteed over 10 years and has an unprecedented clause that says that Federer will still collect the money even if he doesn’t play.” He can also sell patches on his shirt, which he couldn’t do with Nike.

When you take a look at Federer’s $300 million Uniqlo deal, consider this: his career on-court earnings are $116.6 million.

Federer’s deal with Nike expired on March 1. He continued to wear Nike without a deal during recent grass-court tournaments in Stuttgart and Halle last month. He appeared for his Wimbledon pre-tournament press conference on Sunday wearing an open-collared dress shirt and sports jacket.

Christopher Clarey, tennis columnist for The New York Times, said in a tweet that “Federer’s Nike deal is done but have been told by industry sources that the RF logo will revert to Federer at some stage in the next few years. Am told they do not own the rights to it in perpetuity so it may well rise again.”

After beating Lajovic in the opening round, 6-1, 6-3, 6-4, in 1 hour and 19 minutes, Federer is undefeated wearing Uniqlo and has now won 23 consecutive sets at Wimbledon. Regardless of his attire, the new Uniqlo brand ambassador still looks fabulous in white – and he knows how to play tennis.