Athletes Ace Tenniscore Trend

Apparel, accessories, and footwear items taking their inspiration from the sport of tennis—pleated tennis skirts, tennis dresses, skorts, preppy polo shirts, V-neck sweaters, and the like—have been hot commodities in the fashion industry this year. Brands such as Adidas and Nike are involved, but so are designers and labels such as Tory Burch and Dior. This so-called “tenniscore” trend naturally lends itself to collaborations with high-profile tennis players.

Here are some of the recent collaborative, licensing, and endorsement deals featuring global tennis stars. They involve products within the fashion industry, encompassing both on-court and off-court items, as well as occasional forays into other categories:

  • Venus Williams and her EleVen by Venus label, founded in 2007, have a wide range of partnerships in place, with recent ventures including K-Swiss for a third limited-edition capsule featuring 17 pieces of leggings, joggers, hoodies, shoes, and other workout gear; sleep products with online mattress retailer GhostBed, announced last week; and a 12-piece athleisure collection with Carbon38 including sports bras, tennis dresses, bucket hats, skirts, and tank tops.
  • Serena Williams has been with Nike for many years and recently dropped a new collection of low-top sneakers, chunky heels, platform sandals, tops, tights, and shorts under the umbrella of that partnership, combining performance sports attributes and 1990s streetwear looks. Williams’ other recent collaborations include a line of diamond rings, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets with Zales, announced in September, and a second collection of luggage, totes, and pet carriers with Away.
  • Coco Gauff paired with New Balance, her sponsor since 2018, this summer for her first collaborations in the apparel and footwear spaces. A sneaker design is based on New Balance’s 327 shoe, customized to reflect Gauff’s signature style. And the clothing collection, which is sold exclusively through Foot Locker Women, is inspired by 1990s New York street style and includes oversized and graffiti-patterned biker shorts, t-shirts, and a windbreaker.
  • Naomi Osaka most recently paired with Levi’s for an upcycled denim collection and with artist Takashi Murakami and Yonex for a tennis racquet. Over the past year or two, Osaka has partnered with a range of luxury marketers, including ADEAM, Nike, Comme des Garçons, Frankies Bikinis, and Strathberry, for collections of apparel, swimwear, accessories such as bags, and footwear.
  • Roger Federer-backed On Running last month completed its initial public offering. Federer replaced Nike as his primary sponsor three years ago, signing with On Running for footwear, in a deal that gave him 3% ownership of the company. For apparel, Federer forged a 10-year agreement with Uniqlo, which, in a departure from most tennis endorsement deals, is likely to extend beyond his retirement. The company outfits him for matches and sells Federer-branded items such as his new line of caps.
  • In September, Novak Djokovic extended his partnership with Lacoste, which began in 2017, through 2025. The alliance features annual Lacoste x Novak Djokovic collections of both on- and off-court apparel, with drops concentrated around Grand Slam tournament times.
  • Rafael Nadal recently worked with Babolat and Kia for a tennis bag to benefit his Rafael Nadal Foundation. The colorful, sustainable bag features drawings created by children who benefit from the charity. Nadal also has a luxury watch deal with Richard Mille that recently celebrated its 10th year. A 50-piece run of a very high-end anniversary watch marked the milestone. And last year, Nadal collaborated with Tiger Woods on a limited-edition Nike tennis shoe, the Nike Men’s Rafa x Tiger Vapor Cage 4.
  • The Andy Murray Collection (AMC), which includes apparel items for use on the court as well as everyday fashion items, is produced by British brand Castore, in which Murray is a shareholder. Murray’s latest collection with Castore, introduced this past summer, was the AMC Stade range, inspired by the official colors and clay courts of the French Open. Earlier this year the AMC brand became the official apparel supplier to Tennis Scotland in a three-year deal.

Collaborations with tennis players are nothing new; athletes from Maria Sharapova to Björn Borg have lent their names to a variety of brand extensions over the years. But several driving forces, including the fact that athletes are becoming ever more proactive in looking for business partnerships outside of tennis, the pandemic-fueled growth in the number of consumers who are watching and playing the sport, and the related rise of the tenniscore fashion trend, have all contributed to a rush of collaborations in this space this year.

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