The Intersection of Tennis and Fashion: Jannik Sinner Makes a Statement with Gucci Bag at Wimbledon

It’s the one covered in Jannik Sinner’s Gucci logos, marking a new phase in the long and complicated relationship between tennis and fashion

Jannik Sinner, one of the strongest Italian tennis players in the world and considered one of the most talented youngsters of his generation, entered the court of the British Wimbledon tournament on Monday with a bag covered in Gucci logos that did not go unnoticed. The reason is that Wimbledon, the oldest and most prestigious tennis tournament, has always imposed very strict rules on athletes’ clothing, and it is the first time that one of the participants shows up with a luxury brand bag instead of the usual models strictly white sportsmen.

Collaborations between fashion houses and highly visible athletes are nothing new, on the contrary they have become increasingly frequent in recent years, for example in sports such as football and basketball. Even in tennis there have long been examples of well-known athletes who have entered into agreements with companies in the luxury fashion sector: Gucci itself had had Roger Federer and Serena Williams as testimonials before they retired. According to many commentators, however, she had never gone as far as she did this year with the Sinner bag.

Those who play Wimbledon have always been allowed to wear only white clothing and accessories and must respect very precise limits on the number, size and position of logos on bags, socks and headbands. Gucci said he worked with Sinner and with the Grand Slam, i.e. the four most important tennis tournaments which also includes Wimbledon, to produce a bag that would be authorized to enter the court.

– Read also: From this year, tennis players will be able to wear dark underwear at Wimbledon

André Agassi in 1988 at the French Open (Bob Martin/Getty Images)

In the history of tennis, fashion has often played a major role. A famous example is that of the American André Agassi, who refused to participate in Wimbledon between 1988 and 1990 due to its too strict rules on clothing, and on some occasions he played wearing denim shorts and colored hair bands that they created quite a stir. Agassi’s jeans were “mentioned” by Serena Williams at the 2004 US Open, when she showed up with long boots and a denim suit, which she had specifically requested from Nike.

In general, Williams often wore designer and eccentric suits never seen on tennis courts, from time to time conceived with sponsors for individual tournaments, raising frequent criticisms among the more traditionalists. In 2018, he caused controversy over a skin-tight black suit he wore at Roland Garros, which the tournament organizers deemed inappropriate to the club’s tradition.

Serena Williams at Roland Garros in 2018 (AP Photo/Alessandra Tarantino)

Contrary to these cases, Sinner has never shown a willingness to question tradition with provocative style choices, and indeed at the New York Times he said he is very attached to the traditions and dress code of Wimbledon. Sinner, however, is 21 years old and belongs to a generation of tennis players who are increasingly being asked to be present on social networks and to make themselves known as public figures as well as athletes, unlike what happened until a few years ago. Collaborations with fashion houses, in addition to being very profitable, fully fall within this approach.

As he told the Guardian Stuart Brumfitt, tennis magazine reporter Bagel, unlike in the past, “young players seem aware of how they look off the pitch”. The approach to fashion of younger tennis players, argues Brumfitt, seems to be divided between the one more linked to tradition and the one more oriented towards the future: according to him, Sinner belongs to the first category, that of the “old school” as well as Roger Federer, one of the most loved tennis players in the history of this sport. Examples of the opposite approach are instead the Spaniard Carlos Alcaraz, who presented himself at the press conferences with a fisherman’s hat, or the Australian Nick Kyrgios who wears a double earring and before the tournaments wears a pair of red Air Jordan shoes it changes every time before entering the field.

– Read also: There’s no grass at Wimbledon anymore

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