Style: Are we in a new golden age of tennis fashion?

This article first appeared in The Edge Financial Daily, on September 12, 2017.
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THE US Open has rolled into New York to bring the tennis season to its climax. Consequently, we in the style department find ourselves wondering, not for the first time, about the dress sense of men renowned for their court sense.

Away from the stadium, the rankings are clear: No one dresses up better than Roger Federer, who wore a glittering cobra design on the back of his Gucci tuxedo jacket this year at the Costume Institute Gala. And no one dresses down better than Gael Monfils, whose casual rock-star attitude towards personal style makes him this sport’s analogue of Russell Westbrook.

But when these guys are dressed for athletic success, the situation gets murkier, and many questions arise.

Do the resurgence of Fila and the hipsterfication of Adidas promise a return to the superb fashions of Bjorn Borg’s head-banded heyday? And speaking of sweat absorption: Are those supersized wristbands that Rafael Nadal has taken to wearing? Or are they what they appear to be — the cut-off sleeves of a toddler’s sweatshirt?

For tentative answers to these and other questions, please find below a list of notable names in men’s tennis style. — Bloomberg


Isner at the Australian Open in an activity-appropriate top.

Don’t call it a comeback

Fila — a company founded in Italy in 1911, loved by Cool James in the 1980s, purchased by its Korean licensee in 2007, and very on point right now — has endorsement deals with a number of exciting players who look sharp in a number of exciting patterns. We like how the checks of John Isner’s polo echo the criss-cross of the net.


A footloose Nadal at the Australian Open.

The shoe that aces

Having survived an era in which extra-long shorts — veritable capri pants — once characterised his look, Nadal has cleaned up head-to-toe. Especially the toe. His Nike Lunar Ballistecs, with an off-centre swoosh inspired by the design of the brand’s football cleat, is all aces.



The forehand looks good. We would say the same for the forearms if we could see them.

The case of the expanding wristbands

As we were saying: Nadal is generally looking well head-to-toe. It’s his arms that might be a problem. How much can one man perspire to need these double-wide wristbands? Would the WTA please consider fining him for committing this small crime against his forearms?



Zverev at the US Open doing his best Bjorn Borg.

The inevitable throwback

In the fashion world, everyone’s feeling a 1970s vibe. In the tennis world, no one translates into action more dashingly than Alexander Zverev, seen wearing an Adidas Originals ensemble designed by Pharrell Williams. Check out that shirt, with its fine vertical stripes and thoughtful detailing around the collar. Get a load of that harmonious headband. And the chain around his neck? Even if it’s too outre for your personal taste, you can appreciate Zverev’s way of pulling the rakish outfit together.


Dusan Lajovic of Serbia wearing his country proud.

The national pride

At the Davis Cup, as at the Olympics, a nation’s uniform offers a window onto its soul. This time around, nobody beats Serbia at achieving a balance of sober dignity, sporty style and chic patriotism. The double-headed eagle on the country’s coat of arms is rather swank.



Djokovic, a loser at the French Open, is still a winner in Lacoste.

Crocodile rock

Novak Djokovic has been very well served by his endorsement deal with Lacoste. (See also the perfect fit of his go-to Wimbledon whites, with the crocodile enlivening a tidy ensemble.) One can only hope that the graphic snazziness of this polo helped to ease the sting of losing in the quarter-finals at Roland Garros.


Querrey trying out the local headgear at the Mexican Open.

Sombrero gigante!

We are not sure whether Sam Querrey, hoisting his trophy after beating Nadal in the finals of the Mexican Open, is participating in an esteemed tradition or if he is the victim of a practical joke. We will take the liberty of assuming that everyone involved is being respectful of the host country’s culture. But obviously, that brim is way too wide for Querrey’s shoulders.