Why tennis is, and always will be, the world's most stylish sport

Anyone for tennis?

The answer from the fashion industry is a definitive yes.

Granted, the gentlemanly sport with its preppy aesthetic has long been a source of inspiration for designers. One fine example is Thom Browne's Wimbledon inspired resort 2018 collection with its tailored blazers, polos and call-backs to Swedish tennis champion Björn Borgs' signature headbands. 

Some of the game's legends have become style icons in their own right. For Off-White designer and  Louis Vuitton men's creative director Virgil Abloh (who last year collaborated with Nike on a "Queen" collaboration alongside Serena Williams) Andre Agassi in his playing prime, with his brash style and impressive mullet, is a source of inspiration.

"Andre Agassi was a wave!" Abloh told New York Magazine's The Cut of Agassi's impact on style and culture, "He impacted me and what I thought about sports and Nikes. He was wearing denim shorts with neon biker shorts underneath. He had attitude and style."

Team Italy

During Pitti Uomo in Milan last year Z Zegna (the Zegna family have long loved the game, building a tennis court in 1956 in the Oasi Zegna park in the Piedmonte Alps) revealed Alessandro Sartori's tennis inspired summer 2019 collection of sportwear silhouettes and tailoring in a palette of grey, pink, yellow and navy.

"Everything revolved around the idea of blending a tennis mood with streetwear and tailoring," Sartori said at the time of the collection, which also includes the luxury house' Wash & Go Techmerino wool worked into suits, outerwear and accessories.

Sartori struck the right note when he said of the collection, "Performance and comfort are key for contemporary customers."

It's a theme infiltrating tennis collaborations everywhere.


Winning doubles

For the Australian Open this month ASICS launched a new tennis shoe, The Court FF Novak,  designed alongside world No.1 Novak Djokovic. This tournament bad boy Nick Kyrios is kitted out in sneakers from a collaboration between NBA point guard Kyrie Irving and Nike. The Nike Vapor X 'KYRIE 5 shoe is a hybrid of the Vapor X tennis shoe and the Kyrie 5 basketball shoe. Much has been made online of Rafael Nadal returning to the sleeveless look he sported in his teens, sporting a tangerine Nike number.

Meanwhile, Roger Federer, a man who knows his way around a tuxedo off-court, now has a ten-year  deal with Japanese basics brand Uniqlo worth a cool USD$300 million. The partnership will see The Fed work alongside artistic director Christophe Lemaire on designing "the best looking apparel for a tennis player in recent years," as well as working on the Japanese mega-retailer's LifeWear range.

And in a certain sign that swagger (and the ability to swing a racket) may be in the genes, Fila recently signed 15-year-old Leo Borg (son of Björn Borg and a gifted tennis player in his own right) as one of its faces. In further proof that sportswear, streetwear and luxury will continue to intersect and inspire each other, the brand also hosted its first runway show in Milan in September last year. The collection featured V-neck tees, polos and logo-encrusted shorts, shell jackets and swimsuits that paid tribute to Borg senior's signature style.

Because alongside the alignment of form and function there's another factor driving the tennis fashion revival, it's gotten undeniably cool. Much of which has to do with celebrating those in the game in possession of true personal style.

Smart investors

Closer to home, Australia's own future champions are also seeing the opportunities that can come from the intersection of sport and style.

Current wunderkind Alex De Minaur has been announced as the latest ambassador for Swiss watch company TAG Heuer. A fitting partnership considering the brand's "don't crack under pressure" ethos.

​"I've always had a fascination with watches," explains De Minaur.

"I've always loved TAG's watches and whenever I'm at airports or have some time to spare, I always check out watch stores," says De Minaur.

His watch of choice? The Carrera Calibre Heuer-01 with black ceramic case, and bezel  topped off with a textured black rubber strap.

"I'm more of a classic kind of guy and as soon as I saw the Carrera, that was the watch for me."

Check out the gallery above to get your courtside inspiration.