As we hit the halfway point of the year-long tennis season, we take a look into player endorsement deals versus tournament sponsorships at the four grand slam tournaments. The top five players from both the men’s and women’s categories have gained sponsorships from companies around the world, but many grand slam sponsors aren’t capitalizing on the other players, or the sport overall. For many of these brands, its sponsorship investment appears to be in either the tournament or the player, but not both. Let’s take a look:
Australian Open sponsors include: KIA, Rolex, IBM, Lacoste, Wilson and Heineken. KIA, which sponsors Rafael Nadal, has designated Nadal as its Global Brand Ambassador. Rolex sponsors several tennis professionals including Federer, Na Li, Caroline Wozniaki and Ana Ivanovic as well as several of the Masters tournaments and the Davis Cup. Wilson, which sells popular tennis rackets, is the only sponsor of the Australian that endorses many players.
The sponsor list for the French is almost twice as long as the Aussie Open, with sponsors such as BNP Paribas, IBM, Emirates, Fedex, Lacoste, Longines, Perrier, Peugeot and Moet & Chandon. Of those, only Peugeot (Novak Djokovic), Moet & Chandon (Roger Federer), Adidas and Babolat sponsor both the tournament and individual players. Adidas and Babolat are among the top racket and clothing companies in the world and endorse top 10 players Rafael Nadal and Andy Murray.
Wimbledon has 12 primary sponsors, including Rolex, IBM, Ralph Lauren, Evian, HSBC and Hertz. Interestingly enough, Rolex is the only company that sponsors the tournament as well as men’s and women’s players such as Roger Federer and Na Li. Evian also has a deal with Maria Sharapova, but no one on the men’s side.
The last of the four majors is the U.S. Open in New York, and it is sponsored by Chase, American Express, Emirates, Citizen, Mercedes Benz, Heineken, Ralph Lauren, Evian and Moet & Chandon. Similar to the other three majors, only Roger Federer (Moet & Chandon, Mercedes Benz) and Maria Sharapova (Evian) have deals with a tournament sponsor.
Tennis is one of the most marketable global sports with a year-long season, fans with high disposable income, events all over the world, and a dedicated television network (Tennis Channel). With international icons such as Roger Federer, Maria Sharapova and Rafael Nadal, tennis provides an attractive option for companies who want to pursue more exposure. But for now, only a handful of companies are maximizing on a combination of player and tournament endorsement deals.