Nike-Endorsed Tennis Players: “Play Inside, Play For The World”

WASHINGTON, March 23, 2020 (by Michael Dickens)

Over the weekend, Nike took to social media as a means to encourage quarantining and social distancing during the novel coronavirus pandemic. The Beaverton, Oregon-based apparel brand, whose many pro tennis clients include a who’s-who of the sport – from Rafael Nadal, Karen Khachanov and Denis Shapovalov to Simona Halep, Elina Svitolina and Belinda Bencic – posted its iconic swoosh and the words: “If you ever dreamed of playing for millions around the world, now is your chance. Play inside, play for the world.”

The Nike campaign was conceived with Wieden + Kennedy Portland shows examples of athletes playing inside. Earlier this month, Nike announced it that along with its foundation and leaders, the brand would commit more than $15 million (USD) to support Covid-19 response efforts. Nike previously announced the temporary closure of its shoe and apparel stores throughout the U.S. and other select countries amid the coronavirus pandemic.

According to AdAge, “Nike’s funding to support Covid-19 efforts will be dispersed among organizations like the Oregon Food Bank, the Oregon Community Recovery Fund and Oregon Health & Science University. The latter will receive $7 million to help improve care coordination throughout the state, increase patient access and bolster readiness for expanded diagnostic testing for the coronavirus.”

An open letter to WTA fans

On Sunday, WTA chairman and CEO Steve Simon penned a letter to WTA fans around the world. “As you are like aware, due to the coronavirus pandemic, the professional tennis season has been suspended through June 7. While not an easy decision, this is undoubtedly the right course of action and tournament play will only resume once the relevant authorities and public health experts have provided guidance that it is safe to do so,” he wrote. … Stay safe and thank you for your support and understanding. It’s because of you that tennis is the leading global sport for women. We look forward to being back in action soon.”

Players using social media for fan outreach

Count Germany’s Angelique Kerber among the many tennis players who have used social media channels to keep in touch with their fans around the world and to offer words of encouragement during the coronavirus pandemic. On Sunday, the World No. 21 said: “Be safe, smart and kind to one another in this difficult period of time … and don’t forget to stay at home. My thoughts are with everyone affected by COVID-19 and I hope we will get through this sooner than it may seem right now. Sending lots of ❤️ #COVID19 #stayathome“

A couple of memorable finals 20 years apart

A year ago this past weekend, Bianca Andreescu was crowned the women’s singles champion of the BNP Paribas Open in Indian Wells, Calif. Her 6-4, 3-6, 6-4 victory over Angelique Kerber represented her first WTA Premier Mandatory title.

Meanwhile, on Sunday, the WTA took a deep trip down memory lane and tweeted a highlight reel from the 1999 Indian Wells final won by Serena Williams over Steffi Graf, 6-3, 3-6, 7-5. Williams hit 35 winners to 11 for Graf. The Indian Wells title match was Graf’s 143rd appearance in a singles final. It turned out to be the last one she played in outside of the Grand Slam level.

Practicing social distancing through social media

Alison Van Uytvanck and Greet Minnen

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Preparing for grass season 😅 volley volley 🎾 #corona #stayathome

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Johanna Konta

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Social distancing but make it fashuuuuuun.

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Jannik Sinner

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Jo-Wilfried Tsonga

What they’re tweeting

Stuart Fraser, tennis correspondent, The Times of London

Jon Wertheim, Sports Illustrated tennis writer and Tennis Channel correspondent