Roger Federer stepped onto Wimbledon's Centre Court on Monday in an outfit by Japanese high-street clothing brand Uniqlo, marking his official split from Nike after nearly two decades. Here are five things to know about the tennis great's new sponsorship deal.
1. Federer continues to cash it in
His contract with Uniqlo is thought to be worth about Dh1.1billion over the next 10 years. Considering that Federer will probably be retired for a good portion of that period, it is an endorsement of his appeal both on and off the court - and will make him one of the world's richest sportsmen. Last year, he is thought to have earned about Dh385.6 million, through sponsorships and endorsements, matched only by basketball’s LeBron James and footballer Cristiano Ronaldo.
2. Nike reportedly walked away
Federer was linked with Nike for almost 20 years, in a sponsorship deal that is believed to have earned the 36-year-old Swiss player almost Dh50 million every year. Federer’s high-profile split from Nike occurred when his contract with the sportswear giant expired in March. While the brand has been known to retain relationships with ageing sporting stars, such as Michael Jordan, it is rumoured that it was given the opportunity to match Uniqlo’s offer, and declined.
3. Federer-branded Uniqlo gear in the works
Federer is a welcome addition to Uniqlo’s portfolio, which already sponsors Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori and Australian golfer Adam Scott. In a press statement, Federer declared he was “happy to wear Uniqlo today" and that the deal had been a “long time coming”. Uniqlo confirmed the contract on Twitter, saying it was “honoured to welcome Roger Federer as our new Global Brand Ambassador”. Federer has said that he hopes they will be selling Federer-branded clothing to the public by the beginning of next year, although nothing has been confirmed.
4. Federer will be popping his collar
There is the question of how Federer’s outfits will change as a result of this new arrangement. Perhaps luckily, the brand is known for its simple, unfussy clothing, with a bright red square logo that sits on the left chest and the arm. His new look was designed in Paris by Uniqlo artistic director Christophe Lemaire, and features a simple stand-up collar – rather than a standard polo collar – which is more reflective of Federer’s off-court style. As a father of four, Federer has said that he prefers clothing to be practical and pared back. Notably, although now wearing Uniqlo tops and shorts, Federer was still wearing Nike footwear on court on Monday and has not discounted the idea that he may enter into a shoe deal with his former sponsor.
5. Nike still owns his initials
Nonetheless, there is one small hiccup that shows even the most amicable of divorces can get messy. Even though Nike and Federer have now gone their separate ways, Nike still retains the rights to Federer's monogrammed RF line. "The RF logo is with Nike at the moment, but it will come to me at some point,” Federer said on July 2. "I hope rather sooner than later, that Nike can be nice and helpful in the process to bring it over to me… They are my initials. They are mine. The good thing is it's not theirs forever. In a short period of time, it will come to me.”