Fashion: the Hots and Nots of 2008

Fashion + tennis = Ftennis (Silent F). Having done a McFederer ftennis post, I think time is ripe to look to the other players for the best and worst outfits of 2008.

When it comes to tennis fashion, the legendary Cardigan aside, we’ve had a good deal with gimmicks this year, from Serena’s Wimbledon trench, to the too-brief appearance of Masha’s “tuxedo-inspired” outfit. So here are the hits and misses of the 2008 Ftennis.


The Nike v Adidas Non-Rivalry

When asked about how she felt about the rivalry between Kournikova and herself, Martina Hingis famously replied: “what rivalry? I win all the matches.” The same thing could be said about the Nike and Adidas rivalry, there is no rivalry because, in short – Adidas is getting pwned.

I’m referring here to the designs – on the one hand, Nike divides its designs into season, i.e. AO/IW/Miami, Pre-Roland Garros Clay, Roland Garros, Wimbledon, Canada/Cincy, US Open, Indoors etc. Nike’s posterboys/girls – namely Federer, Nadal, Masha, and Serena – get their own lines, their own gimmicks, special talking points for the first week of grand slams (a la Cardigan, Trench Coat, Rafa-in-Sleeves-yay-or-nay).

On the other hand, Adidas finds it appropriate to dress their posterboy/girl in different colours of the same design for more than half a year. Ivanovic spent about 6 months from Madrid 07 to Roland Garros 08 in fluro-coloured bubble dresses. Novak Djokovic operates by a set formula: Black/White Tshirt + random fluro bits. The exception being his Toronto/Cincinatti outfit, the horrors of which I will talk about later. And does anyone find it strange that Ivanovic and Djokovic get pretty much what the other Adidas players are getting? And what about their other players – Safina, Wozniack, Tsonga? Does anyone even remember any of their outfits? The only saving grace for Adidas is Stella McCartney, and that blonde bombshell named Maria Kirilenko. 


The Best of the Players


Best of Rafa

Rafa secured his ascendancy to the No 1 spot on the 18th Aug by making the semifinals in Cincinnati, and man he looked good doing it. The purple sleeveless was striking without being overly flashy. Thumbs up for this one. 




Equally striking were the red pirate shorts he wore to the US Open, we don’t see red shorts very often in the men’s game, with most guys opting or black, gray or poo-coloured shorts these days to my dismay. Our World No 1 shows the rest how it’s done. 

(Gee, I’m totally (and treacherously) in Rafaland.)




Best of the Sharapower

Sharapova was on fire at the Australian Open this year, and if I looked this good, I would be too. This is the outfit she should have worn to Wimbledon – it was classy, simple, it suited her body, the frills down the middle and at the hem were interesting without being overstated, and she simply looked divine in it.




I find it hard to keep my opinions of the player’s outfit separate from my memories of the matches they played in those outfits. For the first time in quite a while, Nike had two world no 1s coming into Roland Garros. Both Federer and Sharapova opted for a classy navy/black ensemble with a white swoosh at the tournament, and they looked like quite a formidable pair. But in the end, both suffered the worst mental implosions of their respective careers at this particular tournament (though in different ways). Nevertheless, the Miss Prim-and-Proper dress deserves a little honourable mention for being great while it lasted. 




Best of Venus 

As a child of the 80s, Venus and Serena were my first tennis loves as a young girl, but that love never extended to their fashion sense. Sure they were edgy, they made everyone talk, but for me at least, it was never a talk of approval. This year however, Venus came out looking absolutely sublime at Wimbledon and the US Open. It was essentially black and white versions of the same dress, but the fit was beautiful, the design was feminine without being powderpuffy. As I would say back in my teenybopper high-school days – Vee’s a star! Or at least a planet. 


AP Photo/Alastair Grant

Image Credit: AP Photo/Alastair Grant



Jim McIsaac/AFP/Getty Images

Credit: Jim McIsaac/AFP/Getty Images



Best of Serena

Serena’s had more than her share of ftennis flops, but I must admit, I love it when the girls opt for striking, bold colours, and Serena at the US Open was the best demonstration of that. The red dress and bandana suited Serena. Thumbs up for Nike. 



Credit: TIMOTHY A. CLARY/AFP/Getty Images


Equally gorgeous was the black version of the dress, and Serena with the trophy.  


Best of Nole and Ana, should such a thing exist in Adidas World

Okay, a little harsh on Adidas perhaps, but I honestly can’t recall a single outfit that was memorable, at least not in a good way. 

If I had to pick one, Djokovic’s US Open night outfit was nice with the fluro green shorts. But it was somewhat marred by the fact that he wore it throughout the rest of the indoor season, and the fact that Tsonga wore the same thing in inverted colours. Your posterboy is a grand slam winner, as he so often reminds us, an almost(!)-world-no-2, new-king-yet-to-be-long-lived: give him his own line will ya?

Same for Ivanovic, the bubble dress wasn’t a bad design, it certainly fitted well, and the blue version looked fantastic at the Australian. But as mentioned, she wore it for about 6 months from the YEC in 2007 right through to Roland Garros, making her the bubbles-and-squeaky-shoes-girl, hardly the bombshell she could be.





Best of JJ

I’m not a huge fan of pastels, at least not for tennis, gimme bold colours, fluro highlights or just dark hues any day. It’s no surprise then that JJ has never really been in my tennis good books, the girl spent most of the year dressed like a powderpuff, but she finally got it right after the US Open, and went on to win 3 titles in 3 weeks in that dress, shouda listened to me sooner JJ. Killers don’t wear pastels. 




Fashion Prison: Epic Fails, Fashion Delinquents, and General Wardrobe/Colour Malfunction


Fashion Prisoner 1: Imploding-Nole-in-White

Anyone noticing a pattern here? Every time Nole wore white this year, he’s been subpar or emotionally funked. On the other hand, he’s played some of his best tennis in black -at the  Australian Open, Masters Cup (ambiguous about that one). But nevertheless, think back to Nole in the Monte Carlo semifinal, Wimbledon 2nd Round against Safin, or when he lost to Tsonga in Bercy.

Or perhaps an even better example – Djokovic was on fire in his quarterfinal match against Roddick at the US Open, wearing – you guessed it – black. The next match, he turned up in the day outfit against Federer, and went down with a whimper. Adidas should steer clear of light colours for Novak Djokovic. 


US Open Semifinal

US Open Semifinal


Fashion Prisoner 2: Ana “Petals-are-better-in-theory” Ivanovic

My initial reaction after learning that Ana would be wearing a “petals(!)” dress at Wimbledon was “oooh‘, but when I saw the dress, the “ooh” turned into an “urgh“. Bottom line – petals? What petals? Nothing about the dress reminded me remotely of petals.

Scroll up and see Ana’s body in the blue bubble dress, and compare that to her body in the pseudo-petals dress, you don’t need to be a fashion expert to know that the fit was crap, the design unflattering, and the tennis did not compensate. 




Fashion Prisoner No 3:  JJ-does-Gossip-Girl

It would have been great dress if it were any other colour. But to make matters worse, JJ decides to add a headband in the exact same colour, complete with a mini bow a la Gossip Girl. What did I say about powderpuffy? She looked like a piece of muscly bubblegum. 




Fashion Prisoner 4: Rafa and the Million Dollar Question

Sleeves – yay or nay? 

As far as I’m concerned, it’s a big fat nay. Sure he doesn’t look bad in polos and tshirts, but the point is – he doesn’t look Nadal. What’s the point in spending all these years building up your own look – be it intentional or not – only to dump it when you’ve finally made it to the top, to become the posterboy for tennis. This is different to Federer changing his image by getting rid of the ponytail, as Andy Roddick fitting replied when asked what was Federer’s weakness a couple years ago – “now that the ponytail’s gone? Nothing”. But part of the Nadal “aura” comes from the biceps, the pirate pants, the vamosing fistpumps. Nike is making a huge mistake if they think Nadal’s image needs changin’. 






Fashion Prisoner No 4: Masha and When-Gimmicks-go-wrong

This is another attempt by Nike to do something a little different, why give Sharapova, the glamour girl/diva of tennis, a dress? Make her wear shorts instead, even better, make her wear some “tuxedo inspired”, semi-sheer, badly fitted top along with those shorts. The result – Masha’s shoulders looked like oversized french sticks. 




The Worst Offender: I-ate-Rainbow-Icecream-and-vomited-on-myself

I return to Novak Djokovic, but it’s not just him, many Adidas players had the unfortunate experience of being forced to wear this every-colour-of-the-rainbow top during the US hard-court season. And the scary thing is, I know people who actually loved this outfit. Seriously??

Colour malfunction of the most shocking extent. My mother always taught me never to wear more than 3 colours at once, and I’ve always considered that to be sound advice. 




Adidas to Fashion Prison


Last but not least, one last cry for Andy Murray to dump the Fred Perry line of potato sacks he’s been wearing – there are better ways to pass off as British mate.


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5 responses to “Fashion: the Hots and Nots of 2008”

  1. Blue says :

    The titles for fashion prisoner are hilarious! And Nadal does look better in sleeveless, scratch that he looks good only in sleeveless, as far as tennis is concerned. We all travel to Rafaland now and then, it’s alright 😀

  2. TopSpin says :

    “Muscly bubble gum” – “oversized French sticks” – loving these descriptions!

    However what did you make of Jelena’s lemon top with a silver sash/belt type thing? I think she wore it after the US Open. I can think of players who it would suit more but it didn’t look bad on her either…

  3. anonymous says :

    The last line made my laugh. 😀

  4. anonymous says :

    The last line made me laugh. 😀

  5. dootsiez says :

    I did like that yellow dress on JJ. She looked like a daffodil in it, and it suited her personality. It’s generally when she turns up in pink or baby blue, complete with headband, mascara and matching nail polish that I feel obliged to groan.

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