Time for the Sydney Morning Herald to butt in:
-------------------------------Federer gets a serve - forget the bling and focus on the swing
July 8, 2009
Roger Federer ... fashionable or slave to the sponsor?
By winning the French Open (the one major title he had not claimed) and now Wimbledon (for the sixth time), Roger Federer has ended almost all arguments about his place in tennis history. So it is only fitting that he has started another debate: why on earth does he want to be a male model?
When he accepted his latest prize on Sunday the gold of the Wimbledon trophy teamed beautifully with the gold trim on his custom-made cream-coloured jacket, which made him look like an extra from the Sergeant Pepper's album cover. Or a hospital orderly.
On the shirt collar, subtle but still noticeable, was an "F". Rod Laver, who witnessed the final from the royal box, has recommended that tennis fans watch Federer's feet to appreciate his grace. Those who do will notice the monograms on Federer's footwear.
But wait, there's more: a cap with a monogram, regularly sighted at media conferences lest reporters need reminding of his name. Also a jacket emblazoned with a "15", the number of major titles he has now won - more than any other male player. More than Laver; more than Bjorn Borg; more than Pete Sampras, whose record he surpassed on Sunday. All three of those former champs posed with Federer after the final, resulting in a photo that reminded us how much Borg now resembles a suntanned Gerard Depardieu.
Laver, Borg and Sampras were never into bespoke jackets - let alone having one run up before winning a title, which smacks of hubris. But all in that illustrious three were trendsetters in their own way. Borg was a boon to headband makers. Sampras pioneered daggy, baggy shorts, which men sniggered at until they realised how comfortable they were. And Laver was a fan of cabbage leaves under a floppy hat to keep him cool under the fierce Queensland sun.
While Federer's fashionable side seems naff, he has shown a little more style than his valiant opponent, Andy Roddick of the United States, who wore his cap back-to-front for the trophy presentation after having it the right way round during the match. And the Swiss champ is good taste personified compared with Serena Williams, who confronted reporters after the women's final in a T-shirt with the slogan: "Are You Looking At My Titles?" Now, Ms Williams has a chest on par with La Stupenda's. But Dame Joan Sutherland was never sighted in a T-shirt.
Federer's latest victory was far from effortless. One commentator called it a tribute to his ability to "win ugly", a term denoting more guts than grace. If you have to win ugly, perhaps it is comforting to know you will look smart later - hence the jacket, the monograms and the retro long cream trousers in which he has been making entrances over the past fortnight.
In some ways it is a nod to history, in which Federer takes a keen interest, but it also suggests too much meddling from a sponsor. He could have said: just don't do it.
By winning and setting new records, Federer's substance has overshadowed his style. Had he lost (and he came close) accusations might have been made about ego and arrogance and counting chickens. But he has always favoured a "look" for each tournament. Over the years we have had Roger in blue, in red and in black. White with trimmings is terribly Wimbledon.
Tennis and fashion have long been doubles partners - right back to the 1920s, when Suzanne Lenglen bared her ankles and forearms and William "Big Bill" Tilden glided over the court in long strides. Andre Agassi teamed punk with placement and introduced the pirate look. He shunned Wimbledon for years because he did not like the dress code, then, ironically, had his break-through victory there in 1992. Yet even in his latter days he never modelled a signature line of apparel.
For now Federer's achievements trump his appearance, and that is as it should be. Tennis is about swinging a racquet, not a jacket.
Alan Attwood is editor of The Big Issue and a former tennis writer for The Age.