Saturday, August 29, 2009

Saturday's Children

by Savannah

Caroline Wozniacki dodged the rain drops and defended her title at the Pilot Pen tournament that took place in New Haven, Connecticut. Congratulations to Caro and her fans.

Nuria Llagostera Vives and Maria Jose Martinez Sanchez added another doubles trophy to their collection.

Jurgen Melzer and Julian Knowles won the mens doubles crown in New Haven

Fernando Verdasco was not going to be denied as he overcame a befuddled Sam Querrey in straight sets to take the mens title in New Haven. Maybe he was a tad ticked off because instead of match prep rumor is that Querrey went to a nearby casino to see singer Taylor Swift the night before? Was he that cock sure of himself that he overlooked the veteran player? Enquiring minds want to know.


Tennis bloggers are usually kicked to the curb by mainstream media and news outlets not to mention Major Tennis Tournaments so it was with laugh out loud amusement that I read an article in Saturday's New York Times about the great Monogram controversy. Here are some excerpts:

It started out unobtrusive. When Roger Federer unveiled his monogram at Wimbledon in 2006, it was a gold crest embroidered on the breast pocket of the white blazer he wore to accept the trophy
By 2007, the filigreed scrollwork had morphed into stylized block capitals and had spread to his shoes. A year later, the new monogram turned up at Wimbledon, embroidered in gold on an ivory cardigan and framed by a shield, like a Swiss canton’s coat of arms.

This summer, it’s back. It’s big — big enough to be legible in photographs. And it’s everywhere: on his shoes, on his belt tab, on his duffel, on his jackets, on the plastic bags his new rackets come in.

...What three years ago seemed a plausible, if affected, personal flourish on the part of an athlete whose style of dress and style of play had positioned him as the Fred Astaire of tennis — light on his feet, with a penchant for tuxedo black for night matches and a Rolex commercial in which he shows off his serve in a two-button suit — had somehow escalated into a master-of-all-he-surveys exercise in personal branding.

Fans took note. Some took umbrage. Tennis bloggers had a field day, nicknaming him Monogram Man or Mr. Monogram or Monogram for short.

Federer’s defenders argued that he was within his rights, like teams that win the Stanley Cup or the Super Bowl and are instantly provided with T-shirts and caps advertising their victory.
Some fans speculated that the idea for the monogram had been his all along. Others insisted that Nike made him do it.

“Well, I’m surprised to hear that,” Federer said during a recent interview in Switzerland, “because I don’t have to wear anything or do anything anybody tells me. I do everything myself. It’s really up to me. “

The idea for a monogram emerged from the logo that Mirka Vavrinec, now Federer’s wife, and her father developed for his fragrance, RF-Roger Federer, introduced in 2003. The result was a freehand squiggle. If you knew what you were looking at, you saw the R and the F; if you didn’t, you didn’t. (A three-letter monogram was apparently never an option because Federer has no middle name.)

Federer liked the approach and suggested that Nike come up with a strategy along the same lines.

“For me, it’s important that a fan can buy something that is related to me,” he said. “Like in soccer, you buy a shirt and it’s got somebody’s name on the back. That’s kind of a cool thing.”

His intent was that a monogram would offer a connection as direct but not as literal as a team jersey.
Then there was the gold. Gold, to match the Wimbledon trophy. Gold, the medal awarded to athletes who finish first. But also gold, the metal of unabashed fashionistas flaunting their money — an unfortunate choice for a multimillionaire with a Netjets commercial.

“Maybe we’ve overdone it with gold at Wimbledon,” Federer said. “Maybe for some people, gold is a bit like, ‘He’s trying to show off.’ They think it’s too much bling bling, which is not the goal. It’s to have that connection with the trophy.

There is more blather but then the article seems to ask why isn't anyone carrying on about Tiger Woods monogram. I thought we were talking about Roger Federer? If Tiger Woods was going to jump off the Sears Tower at 3p tomorrow would the Monogram be right there to jump with him? I mean come on people. Tennis has always been about "subtle". If we wanted fanny slapping, towel cracking, trash talking players with their names emblazoned on their uniforms we've got tons of choices. The article, and the Monogram's comments are an admission that Nike may have gone too far with this marketing ploy. I mean the worst they did to Rafael Nadal was take him out of his piratas and put him in a bubblegum pink shirt. I'm glad they didn't decide to dress him up like the late Liberace.

End Note

Tomorrow is a day off for both players and me before the start of the Big Event in Queens, New York. It's the biggest, loudest and gaudiest of all the Slams. What isn't talked about often enough is that the US Open pays for itself. Unlike the other major sports teams in the New York area it asks almost nothing in terms of money from local government. It sets attendance records every year. Butts are in the seats folks.

By the way if you're anywhere near New York you should try and make it out to Queens. Everyone, and I mean everyone, will be on the practice courts. And admission is free


Helen W said...

For the "Nike made him do it" crowd, here's a direct quote from Mr. Monogram himself on that subject:

Some fans speculated that the idea for the monogram had been his all along. Others insisted that Nike made him do it.

“Well, I’m surprised to hear that,” Federer said during a recent interview in Switzerland, “because I don’t have to wear anything or do anything anybody tells me. I do everything myself. It’s really up to me"

As far as Tiger's monogram, it is MUCH smaller and is not plastered over everything he wears. Again, from the article:

Nike’s monogram for Woods (designed in 1996, revised in 2000) is a stark, geometric, semiabstract design that has been deployed more sparingly than Federer’s. Some recognize Woods’s monogram from the caps he wears; others have never noticed it.

Finally Mr. Monogram is getting the attention he deserves.

vw said...

Ugh, enough with the monogram. Just give him the freakin' trophy already.