Despite the many years, tournaments and fashion of all sorts that have passed, Stan Wawrinka remains one of a kind. He has been one of the heroes of the decade; he has won three Grand Slam tournaments (the 2014 Australian Open, the 2015 French Open and the 2016 US Open) and made an impression when he wore an uncanny outfit in the French Open six years ago. Let's be honest, that white, red, and grey polo looked like it was made by a colour-blind designer; remarkably, the shorts looked even worse. Not only were the colours the same, but it was also printed with a crazy and terrible checked pattern.
Obviously, this outfit was fiercely debated and raised a few voices. Literally. In the semi-final, a Tsonga fan yelled: “Picture him wearing pyjamas!” Stan Wawrinka and his sponsor later gave an explanation: “We did not expect this outfit to be discussed so much,” said Yonex. “Our only goal is to help the players perform.” Stan was a bit more talkative: “Everybody is on about my shorts. I love them, but I seem to be the only one,” he said, joking. “They are three-in-one: a bathing suit, tennis shorts, pyjamas.” And he was right.
These shorts were an insult to fashion indeed, but they also took the opposing view of the prestige attached to high-level tennis, only to highlight another vision of the sport. They were the embodiment of the tennis we play on campsites and hotel club courts, between a barbecue and a glass of rosé, with soft balls and worn racket grips, where we win medals with three-coloured necklaces and fight tooth and nail for every single point, like: “It is so out! Wear glasses!”
Apostle of tennis from below
Every summer, millions of freestyle tennis tournaments are played on sunny days. They are the ultimate stage for weekend players. They all sign up to show their best slices and throw their rackets against the fence. Yet, style is their biggest issue. What is the best outfit to play the ultimate classy sport – don’t forget that full-white outfits are mandatory at Wimbledon, to such an extent that Roger Federer had to get rid of his orange-soled shoes in 2013 – while spending your day between a mobile home and a pool, barbecuing and napping?
Though a basic t-shirt with a gross message printed on it does the job as a top, finding the perfect bottoms is trickier. As these tournaments usually last all day, you might be summoned at any time, i.e., right before or right after pool-time. So, the most convenient way for players to stick to their schedule is to hit the court wearing the bathing shorts they wear every day at the pool or at the beach, never mind the flower, maya, dot or checked – Wawrinka’s favourite – patterns.
In 2015, Wawrinka – purposedly or not – represented that tennis in Paris, in the holy of holies, where tennis is more a social status than a sport. He represented authentic tennis; surprisingly, he even won the tournament after a perfect journey. Here is why this victory, though visually terrible, is impossible to forget.