Swiss tennis icon Roger Federer made his Wimbledon 2018 debut donning Uniqlo, a Japanese clothing company brand, indicating the end of a partnership with Nike.
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The 20-time Grand Slam champion's deal with the top sports brand expired in March of this year. According to ESPN, citing sources, the deal with Uniqlo will run for 10 years and is worth US$300 million. The report also said that Federer will collect the full value of the deal whether or not he plays tennis.
“I was excited to wear Uniqlo today,” the Swiss said after his opener Monday, adding that the Uniqlo deal was “a long time coming.” The 36-year-old wore Uniqlo-labeled headband, jacket, shirt and socks during his opening-round match at Wimbledon but with Nike footwear.
"I don't have a shoe deal," Federer said at a press conference. "I'm looking forward to see what shoes I will be wearing in the near future. For now, I will be wearing Nike. They have shown interest to have a shoe deal with me, as well. Ties are not broken there. I have deep roots with Nike. I've had a great relationship over the last 20 years. But everything is open."
Federer first signed with apparel giant Nike more than two decades ago, in 1994. Nike declined to comment on the dissolved partnership while Uniqlo confirmed the player's new arrangement.
Sources say Federer's team will be allowed to generate additional income by selling sponsorship patches on his Uniqlo shirt, a luxury not included in his former arrangement with Nike, which retains ownership of Federer's “RF” logo trademark of since 2010.
"Yeah, so the RF logo is with Nike at the moment, but it will come to me at some point," Federer said. "I hope rather sooner than later, that Nike can be nice and helpful in the process to bring it over to me. It's also something that was very important for me, for the fans really.
"Look, it's the process. But the good news is that it will come with me at one point. 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.
Federer added: "Obviously we also need to figure out with Uniqlo when at one point we can start selling clothes for the public as well. All this has just gotten underway. We're hopeful the beginning of next year people can also start buying my stuff. For the moment, as fast, at retailing, as they are, as great as they are, it just needs a bit of time."
The Uniqlo brand is projected to pull in US$29 billion in revenue by 2020.
The world number two and eight-time Wimbledon champion – who is seeded number one at the tournament – kicked off his title defense with a 6-1, 6-3, 6-4 win over 58th-ranked Serb Dusan Lajovic.