Nike’s link with tennis goes back all the way to the company’s early days and its very first association with 70’s tennis great Ilie Nastase. The company has always looked to sign up the top players in the game and recently celebrated that connection with a 2015 street tennis event celebrating twenty years of partnership with tennis.
Serena Williams, Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi all took part in the event which took place in New York to coincide with the US Open. In the event, and the subsequent internationally viewed ad, Agassi recreated his original role in Nike’s seminal 1995 advert; underlining the length, and strength, of that partnership.
Agassi was an Olympic Gold medallist, and a Grand Slam champion eight times over, and has a solid claim to be one of the greatest tennis players ever. Agassi was sponsored by Nike for 17 years until 2005, when he signed to Adidas.
By 2013 he had again returned to Nike with a contract whose terms have not been made public, but which is understood to be very generous.
Roger Federer’s association with Nike shows the changes that have evolved over the years with a more modern twist of multi-platform linking. Famous for tweeting using emojis, Federer’s range of tee-shirts for Nike incorporates them too- a new tactic to link the athlete with the product in an era when everyone is that little bit more easily accessible through social media.
His ten -year contract with Nike is said to be the largest ever in the world of tennis, at $10,000,000 a year. Federer’s huge standing in tennis – in the five years between 2005 and 2010 he featured in 18 out of 19 Grand Slam finals- makes him a sound investment for Nike even at that price.