Charlize Theron watches the US Open in the Dobel suite, with an Ace Paloma in hand

Tennis Resurgence Fueled by Fashion, Film, and Social Media

The sport of tennis is experiencing a significant resurgence, bolstered by influences from the fashion industry, film, and social media platforms like TikTok.

The Influence of Zendaya and Hollywood
Zendaya’s captivating performance in “Challengers,” a film centred around a complex romantic relationship with tennis as a backdrop, has brought renewed attention to the sport. However, the revival of tennis’s popularity extends beyond the silver screen. Tennis has seen a surge in global interest over the past few years, with its stars becoming prominent figures in luxury fashion campaigns and gracing magazine covers.

Fashion and Social Media Impact

Tennis’s integration with the fashion world is evident, with top players endorsing brands like Louis Vuitton and Loewe and appearing in Vogue. The #tenniscore trend on TikTok, which showcases tennis-inspired fashion, has amassed tens of millions of views, further propelling the sport into the limelight.

Media and Sponsorship Boom

ESPN’s selection of Serena Williams, a 23-time Grand Slam winner, to host this year’s ESPY Awards highlights tennis’s renewed appeal. The COVID-19 pandemic played a role in this resurgence, as tennis was one of the few activities that allowed for safe social distancing. Since then, the sport’s popularity has continued to rise, driven by new, young talent and significant corporate sponsorships.

The United States Tennis Association (USTA) reports nearly 24 million people currently playing tennis, marking four consecutive years of growth. This increase in participation has attracted substantial corporate interest, with a 41% rise in sponsorships and a 40% increase in brands advertising in tennis over the past year, according to SponsorUnited.

The Role of Social Media and New Talent

Bob Lynch, CEO of SponsorUnited, attributes this growth to several factors, including rising TV ratings for the Tennis Channel, the Netflix docuseries “Break Point,” and the social media influence of tennis players. Young, digitally savvy athletes like Coco Gauff, who has nearly 2 million Instagram followers, are becoming more prominent. These players leverage social media to connect with fans and attract brand sponsorships, mixing posts about their personal lives with endorsements.

Fashion Brands and Endorsements

Brands like New Balance, Lacoste, and Maestro Dobel Tequila are deeply involved in tennis. New Balance, for instance, has a long-term partnership with Coco Gauff, providing her with custom-designed outfits and shoes. Lacoste, founded with tennis in mind, continues to capitalize on the sport’s aesthetic and elegance, with top players like Novak Djokovic and Daniil Medvedev as ambassadors.

Alcohol and Luxury Brands

The intersection of tennis with luxury and lifestyle brands is also notable. The US Open’s signature cocktail, the Honey Deuce, saw record sales last year, reflecting the sport’s appeal to affluent audiences. Maestro Dobel Tequila’s sponsorship of the US Open and other elite tournaments demonstrates how premium brands are leveraging tennis’s popularity to reach high-end consumers.

Future Prospects

With the USTA aiming to increase the number of tennis players to 35 million within the next decade, the sport’s growth shows no signs of slowing down. The combination of new talent, strategic brand partnerships, and a strong presence in fashion and media suggests a bright future for tennis.

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