Babolat’s brand name will be as visible as ball marks on the terre battue next week at Roland Garros.
In a doubles partnership of high-profile French brands, Babolat has released a line of Roland Garros-range gear. The series spans the gear spectrum, including racquets, bags, a backpack, strings, grips, vibration dampeners and—what you'll see most often—the tournament's official ball.
The AeroPro Drive French Open racquet and matching Team Racquet Holder French Open bags (the larger bag holds 12 frames and retails for $79.95; a 6-racquet bag is $59.95) come in Roland Garros’ crushed red brick color cosmetic and lead the line. Reigning French Open singles champions Rafael Nadal and Francesca Schiavone, as well as flashy Frenchman Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, will all play with customized versions of the Aeropro Drive. The 10.6 oz. AeroPro Drive French Open frame comes in a 100-square-inch head size and carries an MSRP of $199. Tsonga is already playing with the red clay-colored racquet (see above picture).
This marks the second straight year Babolat has issued a commemorative racquet to coincide with the clay-court major. Last year, the brand released the Pure Drive 135, a red version of the blue Pure Drive, which Carlos Moya wielded when he won the 1998 French Open.
Targeting the junior market, Babolat has also released an 8.6 oz., 100-square-inch head AeroPro Drive junior French Open frame for $104 that the brand says is designed for players from four to 13 years of age.
Babolat benefited from black-out buzz last year as both Nadal and Schiavone played with the brand’s black strings in their title trips, prompting a rec player run on the strings in some areas. Aiming to build on that visibility and its Roland Garros partnership, Babolat has produced an all-black XCEL French Open string in 17, 16 and 15-gauge versions; MSRP: $18.95.
There's also the Custom Damp French Open dampener, if heavy topspin tennis shakes your strings, which retails for $5.95 (two per pack). For those who view their string damp as a mood mirror, the Loony Damp French Open dampener features the Roland Garros logo on one side and a smily face, in the same color, on the other.
Last but not least, Babolat succeeded Dunlop as the official ball supplier of the French Open, launching a five-year pact with the French Tennis Federation through 2015. The Babolat French Open All-Court Ball comes in three-ball cans for $4.25. While you'll only see the pros hit them on clay, it's designed for all surfaces.