Most people need no introduction to Rafael Nadal, the 23-year old Spanish sensation that conquered the tennis world last year after finally dethroning prodigy Roger Federer from the number one spot. Aside from being at the top of the men’s tennis, there’s another aspect that makes Nadal stand out: his choice of tennis apparel.
Early on, and up until very recently, “Rafa”, as he is fondly called by fans and supporters, sported the perfect apparel that can only be described as ‘rebellious’ to the traditional and mostly conservative tennis fashion sense. The tight-fitting sleeveless tops challenged the appeal of the sporty polo. The capris he wore seemed utterly uncomfortable, but complemented the tops very well. The bandana covering his entire forehead seemed distracting, but appropriate with his renegade theme.
It’s not like Nadal was the first person to shock the world when it came to his tennis garb. Women’s tennis always pushed the envelope when it comes to apparel, such as “Gorgeous” Gussy Moran’s lacey underwear circa 1950 or Maria Sharapova’s Swarovski crystal-studded dress from Nike. But men’s tennis has always been so customary when it came to clothing, with only a few exceptions like Andre Agassi’s hot pink getup in the 1990 French Open.
Still, it was Rafael Nadal who came along with his trimmed muscles, powerful play, and flashy attire and has put a stamp on the sport—and it’s not just the things he did that has to do with being the world’s top male tennis player. Last year, Rafa showed up with a fusion of his style and the pinnacle of classic tennis fashion—at Wimbledon. He was still clad in his distinctive attire, but the garish colors gave way to the traditional white of the oldest tennis tournament in the world.