Rafael Nadal will take to the terre battue with a bull's-eye on his chest and a bull on his back when he takes aim at his sixth Roland Garros title. The French Open begins on Sunday, May 22, and Nike has unveiled the clothes and shoes its top stars will be wearing there.
TENNIS.com will preview the apparel some of tennis' top stars will don in Paris—always a highly-anticipated moment among tennis fashionistas. Today we'll take a sneak peek at Nike's collection (available on Nike.com), with adidas' apparel to follow later this week.
Nadal has been sporting a canary-colored shirt throughout most of the spring, but will go indigo when he launches defense of his Roland Garros crown. He'll wear the Nike Fearless Tierra men’s tennis shirt (MSRP: $65) featuring his trademark bull logo amid a sea of patterns on the back of the V-neck shirt. The rallying cry"Vamos Rafa!” is written on the inside of the neck.
"That blue color fighting with the clay he’s playing on is the story for the season," saya Janice Lucena, creative director of Nike tennis. "Rafa gives us direction on what he prefers. This is his most high-profile event of the season, by far, and the color choices are more critical here than they are at any other time of the year."
Both the blue top and white Ace Woven tennis shorts (MSRP: $65) Nadal will wear are made of Dri-FIT moisture-wicking fabric, designed to keep sweat away from the skin.
Throughout much of the season, Nadal has followed a post-match, dress-down ritual in shedding his shirt and zipping on a sweat jacket. In Paris, he’ll wear the Fearless tennis jacket (MSRP: $90) in blue and gray, with the bull logo in white near the right side pocket. For shoes, you'll see Rafa in the Nike Airmax Courtballistec 3.3, in blue and white (MSRP: $125). He wore this same model in white, light gray and red at January's Australian Open.
Roger Federer saw his streak of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinal showings snapped by Robin Soderling at the 2010 French Open. For his return to the clay-court major, Nike has outfitted Federer with a polo built for speed.
The Federer Trophy Stripe polo (MSRP: $80) features the RF logo embedded at the bottom of the four-button placket with “Nike tennis” written on each button. A pattern of five horizontal, white racing stripes appears appears across the shirt. It represents a bit of a stylistic return for Federer, who wore a white-and-yellow polo with a shorter placket at the Australian Open; he'll return to four buttons for the French.
“Roger’s polo is really a story about speed. We wanted to pick a color and design that conveyed the idea of racing,” Lucena says. “We purposely started the stripe just in the lower part of the body to really highlight the detail.”
“Sonic welding,” a technique that eliminates seams on the armholes and shoulders, is designed to reduce irritation and provide more stretch to the shirt, Lucena says.
When he makes tracks across the clay, Federer will wear Nike Lunar Vapor 8 Tour shoes (MSRP $125) in red and white. Weighing in at about 13.8 oz., Nike touts the shoe as “ultra lightweight.”
The French Open's Coupe Suzanne Lenglen is the only title trophy missing from Maria Sharapova’s major championship collection. This year, the Russian will try for it in apparel inspired by an iconic French image—the Eiffel Tower.
Sharapova showed shades of play in the peach and pale blue dress she wore in Melbourne. The lemon Maria Line 9 dress (MSRP: $120) she’ll wear in Paris takes its design aesthetic from the Tower, according to Nike designers, offering a yellow criss-cross pattern across the front.
“We really looked to the design of the (Eiffel Tower) in building something very strong yet lightweight and breathable,” Lucena says of the new dress, which offers a built-in bra for support and a double-layered skirt with a brighter yellow under layer, covered with a light-weight mesh top.
Matching white-and-yellow Lunarlon Speed 3 shoes (MSRP: $120) complete Sharapova’s outfit. The shoes feature extra durable rubber on the outsole and toe tip for protection and support when sliding.
Former French Open champ Serena Williams isn’t expected to play in Paris, but the fashionista and HSN guest star still contributed her ideas to the Nike design team that produced the Serena Smash Knit dress ($90).
Serena’s cutting-edge approach has spanned the style spectrum in the past: She prowled the court in a skin-tight cat suit at the 2002 U.S. Open, honored tradition in wearing all-white dresses at Wimbledon, paid tribute to the Cameroon soccer squad in stepping into high socks at the 2002 French Open (she was wearing Puma at the time) and donned a denim skirt, black halter top, boots and jacket—with the word “Serena” spelled out in sparkling rhinestones—at the 2004 U.S. Open.
This pinkish-red Smash Knit dress offers a more traditional silhouette in Dri-FIT fabric with a square neckline and ruffled layer skirt.