The dawn of brilliance, at least for the past seven years, has been filled by not only the worldly shot-making of a true racket wizard, but also a fashionista in the making.
Roger Federer will be the first to admit that his on and off-court attire was not always at the forefront of his tennis mind. Matching his belt with his shoes was never the initial priority after the physical exertion of a four-hour training session. A jump-suit and a quick shower more than sufficed.
But with the long-time union of his wife, Mirka Federer, all that changed. A tennis great, and great-dressed-tennis-player, were under construction. The man from Basel had transformed himself from denim to couture, in about the same amount of time it took to slap a forehand winner down-the-line. The chic star was born.
Although a finely groomed Federer readily appeared red-carpet-ready whenever he pranced around his favorite city or restaurant throughout the enticing tennis destinations around the world—it was his on-court attire which produced the most headway.
With the inception of the RF brand (courtesy of Nike), a frenzy of Federer followers were given the opportunity to own a piece of their hero. The mere tennis mortal could finally embrace an item of the "great Fed" tightly clenched in their western-hitting palms.
With time, fans saw the further development of R-Fed's on-court duds, which evolved with the elegance and grace of his traditional strokes. From his belts, to his euro-fitted shirts, all the way to his latest Wimbledon-inspired "military look," Roger has always blended and personified what the ambassador of tennis should look like. Leaders need to stand out—they lead, after all.
From an air-conditioned shirt which he debuted in 2006 to a blazer which turned into full-blown three-piece suit by 2007, there was no situation, or dinner party for that matter, which Rog was not ready to conquer. Don't worry; the tuxedo shorts were not forgotten.
The seamless intent which went into every on-court creation stayed on course with the fabric which is Federer's game: sleek and legendary.
However, in the continued quest to be different (greatness is always viewed as different), the ugly head which is known as the tyrant of criticism set to spoil the creative representation of the Swiss.
As recently as this week at the All England Club, an uproar of sorts was constructed pertaining to "the military style jacket" which the Swiss wore when he entered Center Court.
Many have said that Federer looked like a "weenie" and that Nike was further attempting to exploit the tennis great in order to heighten their newly developed Country Club image. Duh!
The criticism begs the question: What would you do?
With the majority of Federer's "actual" merchandise not being available for purchase, Nike exec's have never been interested in actually selling the "military," per say. The essence in which Roger Federer is utilized globally is based around the model of a "brand awareness" tool, more so than a shirt or a pair of wrist-bands sold.
Nike's sole objective has been to attach their name with the greatest player on the planet.
And how does this all benefit Roger? Certainly from a monetary standpoint, no question—a monsoon of sneakers, sweaters, and custom made socks. But is that really the RF reason?
What Federer actually attains in acquiring his "own clothing" is the ability to distance himself from his competition, and draw a definitive line in the sand stating, "I'm simply better than the rest of you."
This is not about being cocky or having Roger's ego reach the heights of the Burj Al Arab. It's about having the courage to say, without a shadow of a doubt, "I'm the best player, period."
Those words may rub some of you the wrong way. Whether it's Federer's choice of attire, or mindset, for that matter, his designed intention is not to produce a stigma of hatred or any type of misinterpretation.
Federer believes in himself, and certainly is confident in what he wears. You feel successful when you look successful.
Federer has exemplified that notion of gaining absolute confidence, as much as possible.
With Federer's latest choice in combat gear drawing comparisons to Captain Merrill Stubing from the Love Boat, it is safe to say that Roger would disagree.
“I went for a modern military look. Hope people like it.”
You have to remember here, folks, Rogers' intention and Nike's, for that matter, are not centered around his new "flavor of the month" item, creating sales for the masses. That will never happen.
These types of in-your-face marketing tactics are created to get us thinking, formulate discussion, intrigue, and sometimes disgust in what the elite Champion decides to wear.
The intention is not to have the public burst out in hysteria, engaging in a tooth and nail war to purchase the new Federer item—merely to remember the Federer item.
The next time Roger enters a stadium around the world in some novelty inspired get-up, which may or may not tickle your fancy, it is important to keep one essential method of reflection present.
A certain peRFection was achieved.