Tennis? A yellow ball, a racquet, a court, a net and an opponent. Professional tennis? The same thing but add money in the mix. And there can be a lot of it, if a player is good enough to win all the prize money and smart enough to cash on his talent with a good marketing, during and after his career. Non-exhaustive list of these expert in image and money.
Maria Sharapova’s sweets
She’s the perfect combination between sports and business: Maria Sharapova knows she's good with the yellow ball, and she is very aware of her beauty too. Sporting achievements and aesthetics, the perfect combo to raise money from sponsors. And as the Russian is also businesswoman, she decided to create her own brand of candy a year ago. Its name? Sugarpova. She has already invested 500,000 dollars in it and does everything to promote her little candy bags. On the first anniversary of the brand, Sharapova has caused a stir by declaring her intention to join the U.S. Open under the name of... Maria Sugarpova. In any case, that's what the Times wrote, before the intervention of her agent, Max Eisenbud. "It would be very complicated" he said. But what it means, is that the beautiful Maria really thought of the idea! Injured, she nevertheless had to abandon the idea to participate in the New York tournament. Too bad.
The Williams sisters’ dresses
The world is divided into two categories: there are those who think that Lady Gaga is vulgar and there are the others. In tennis, the same distinction is made about the Williams sisters, queens of provocation with their improbable outfits: black and red babydoll, fake denim dresses, bodysuits, and nude underwear. Nothing can stop them, especially not Venus, creator of the brand Eleven. Not everything in the collection is very tasteful - not much actually - but her and her sister know how to exploit thoroughly their generous curves with their sponsors. No complex in business.
Novak Djokovic’s « Djokoland »
Novak: a cool name, unusual and easy to remember. And the man may be exceptionally gifted, he's also remarkably smart. Assisted by his family, Djokovic fully exploits the brand "Novak" at his home in Belgrade: a Novak tennis centre, a few Novak restaurants, a Novak hair salon and even a Novak perfume. Everything that is stamped Novak is a hit in Serbia, where the tennis champion is such a star that he was awarded a diplomatic passport from the President. "He's the best ambassador of the country", said Tadic. And a marketing whiz.
Roger Federer’s viral ad
"You know how it goes with magicians, they never reveal their tricks." Summer 2010, a YouTube video is all over the internet. It shows Roger Federer, on the set of a Gillette commercial, playing with a technician and making a bet with him: put a can on your head and I'll take it down with a winner service, like Guillaume Tell. The Swiss, relaxed, succeeded his trick twice. In a suit please. That’s how you do a very successful marketing stunt. The real fake commercial was a hit, but nobody knows if the trick was faked or not. The razors brand pays to Roger Federer millions of dollars annually to represent its image in the world. And to play the fool occasionally.
Andre Agassi’s grunge look
Multi-coloured fluorescent outfits, flamboyant mane held by a bandana - fluorescent too of course – and a bad temper: when he arrived on the tour, the Kid of Las Vegas knew straight away how to play its role of the shaggy young rebel, at a time when the dominant musical style was grunge. The equipment manufacturer Nike mad of him its symbol, and paid him dearly for it, before a big slump and a comeback in a different style: as a tidy man, chastened and engaged with Steffi Graf. And again, the sponsors loved to play with his image! Andre was really good... So good that he even played with a wig during his first "career" rather than revealing a premature baldness that would have been bad for his image. Clever.
Anna Kournikova’s smile
It's the story of a tennis champion, really good racquet in hand, but who was so attractive and confident of her beauty that she preferred exploiting her figure rather than sweating on tennis courts to raise money from her sponsors. Best junior in 1995, professional a year later, at only 16 years old, Anna Kournikova got caught - voluntarily? - In the vortex of glitter, money and marketing. In 2001, despite disappointing sports results, she earned over $ 10 million, almost all through partnerships. Three years later, the Russian shooting star retired from sport. Untitled but with a memorable punch line: "I'm like a menu in a great restaurant, you can look but you can't afford it."
Anne White’s suit
Marketing, it's also a matter of timing. Neither too early nor too late, the point to be on top of fashion at the right time, which is not necessarily an easy task. Take Anne White for example: tennis player as talented than beautiful, the American was also a free and carefree woman who didn't hesitate to play a game with a super slinky all-white suit. Problem: it was at Wimbledon in 1985. The extravagance caused a scandal, the referee expressly asked her to change clothes and pretty Anne left the competition pitifully. Too much ahead of her time, she can still boast of having been a pioneer, the Williams sisters took inspiration of her a few years later. It's not bad.
René Lacoste’s crocodile
In the interwar period, René Lacoste was one of four French Musketeers ruling the tour. The American press loved him and gave him a nickname: the crocodile. Forced to retire prematurely due to a fragile health, the ingenious René kept this nickname to launch his brand of clothes: shirts then polo shirts branded of the big reptile. The success is global. Well-done crocodile.
Fred Perry’s laurel wreath
Certainly inspired by the success of René Lacoste, Fred Perry, eight titles in major tournaments in the 30s, started to flood the market with a bright dress invention after the war: the sweatband. Modestly, he took his first and last name as a trademark and expanded his range to polo shirts branded with a laurel. The marketing ploy is fantastic, with a success that goes beyond sport. Proof that tennis players can be great businessmen.
John McEnroe's big mouth
This good old John McEnroe has no sweets, polo shirts or perfume to sell. What he does best since he retired is to use his legendary big mouth. His punch lines are so famous that they have become a "brand" like any other, allowing him to increase his partnerships and exhibitions. And it pays a lot: at 54 and over 20 years after his retirement, the American earned 75 million in the last year. It pays to play the clown in public!