2020 has been a very challenging year for the tennis industry. After the organisation of the US Open Grand Slam tournament in a bubble with only access to staff members and players, the French Roland Garros tournament had to postpone its dates to September 27th instead of May 24th of 2020. And let’s be honest, Paris in May and October don’t look the same at all ! For the first time, a Grand Slam tournament was held in winter conditions and showed us how players have adapted to these new conditions through their outfits.
The Weather adaptation
During her first game against Danka Kovinić, the Byelorussian player Victoria Azarenka left the game, saying to the referee “what are we doing here ?”, referring to the dire weather conditions with wind, rain and a low temperature of 11 degrees. Indeed elite players have never competed in these kind of weathers and for that reason, we’ve seen on clay courts, outfits that were never seen before.
Serena Williams layered up with an Nike ACG (All Condition Gear) long-sleeve compression top over her dress and adding a 3/4 compression legging.
Fabio Fognini started the French tournament with a jogging pant from its Italian sponsor Armani
Venus Williams was wearing her own “Eleven” brand legging and a compression top in collaboration with Wonder Woman and added with a sleeveless sweater.
Dominic Thiem played in an all black style with a long sleeve compression top that enhanced the design of his new Adidas “Ready for Sport” collection, using the new Adidas READY technology that adapts to different types of climates.
Victoria Asarenka : as a Nike ambassador, Asarenka still wore the new “Nike Challenge Court” collection with winter adaptations such as the vest and the legging that kept her worm and performant.
Kei Nishikori played with the his new “Kei Nishikori Dry France” collection by Uniqlo, using the famous brand’s “Dry Ex” technology allowing tennis players to play their best and still feel dry and fresh. The Japanese players added a long sleeve layer under the polo to brave the French cold weather.
NEW COLLECTIONS FROM EQUIPMENT SUPPLIERS
Even though the weather was difficult for the players on the French Open, we also enjoyed seeing new collections from equipment suppliers during games.
We’ve already talked about the return of the retro outfits in football in our article on the best football jerseys of the the 2020/21 season. Nike also bet on that trend for the tennis season with the “Challenge Court” collection showing 90s colourful designs in honour to the bold outfits that the famous 90s American tennis player Andre Agassi wore in Grand Slam tournaments back then. The collection was originally made for the US Open, but we saw new adaptations on the clay court with wormer pieces of the collection and under-layers.
Gregor Dimitrov at the French Open
Andre Agassi during a match at the French Open, 1995 / Gilbert Iundt Corbis VCG Getty Image
Always looking for innovation in their garments, Adidas is one of the first equipment suppliers that brought more sustainability in tennis performance clothing. We still remember the collaboration between Stella McCartney for the 2017 French Open where Garbiñe Muguruza and Caroline Wozniacki where fully equipped with sustainable clothes and shoes. In 2020, sustainability became a norm for the tennis supplier. Using the “AeroREADY” technology allowing a full sweat absorption, the three stripes brand launched a full collection made with recycled polyester, and didn’t forget to put original geometrical and fading prints.
Similar to Nike, the Japanese equipment supplier Asics has presented the same collection than the one for the US Open, that we might understand due to the late reschedulement of the French Open, not very far the American tournament. Nevertheless, we’ve still appreciated how Asics dressed their elite players such as Caroline Garcia, Iga Świątek and Zhang Shuai or the French rising star Hugo Gaston for the last Grand Slam tournament of the year. Asics is showing geometrical and inspired by origami blue to orange colorblock outfits using their hyperdry “GPX” technology, that keeps the player in a worm and comfortable environment with mesh inserts in the armpit area . They also presented their new gel resolution 8 shoes improving stability comfort in a more lasting shoe.
THE FINAL OUTFITS
The Roland Garros finals were the last occasions to see a Grand Slam match until the Australian Open in February 2021 ! Therefore, we thought it was important to focus on those two battles between the bests by analysing their outfits.
The great winner of the 2020 French Open Rafael Nadal, wore its own “Rafa Slam” collection with Nike, with the “AeroReact” technology, in full light blue with stripes and its famous signature logo in red. And let’s not forget his “NikeCourt Air Zoom Vapor Cage 4” signature shoe in full black with small zebra prints on the exterior side of the shoe!
With more elegance, Novak Djokovic wore his collection in collaboration with the French group Lacoste, where we could see him playing in his red hyperdry polo, simply designed with white large stripes all over his upper body. However, for the shoes, Djokovic played with his “ASICS Court FF Novak Roland Garros” signature shoe with Asics, matching perfectly with the Lacoste outfit, but not enough for the victory!
The Polish Roland Garros 2020 winner Iga Świątek, won the tournament in two sets with a fully adapted low temperature outfit. With her equipment supplier Asics, Świątek matched performance purposes with the new “Asics women dress” with mesh inserts in the armpit area to keep you cool in motion plus the last Gel Resolution 8 shoe mentionned before. But Asics also help her to solve the weather issues with a compression half legging and a tight long sleeve top covering hers arms without taking too much room or limiting her motricity.
Working with Fila, Sofia Kenin played the final with the 2020 “Mad for Plaid” design collection, using the classic plaid prints in melon and coral orange to match with the clay court, and to honour past tennis designs in a new era of highly technical activewear gear. Kenin is also wearing the orange Axilus 2 Energized, a very light but highly stable and gripping shoe, still matching with the famous French Open orange courts.
If 2020 has been a rough year for the tennis industry with the US Open in a confined bubble, the postponing of Roland Garros, and the cancelation of Wimbledon, we were still able to watch the greatest players fighting for their position in new conditions that redefined their outfits. These changes allowed the public to witness a new kind of Grand Slam tennis players, layered up with the greatest performance and design equipment.