Roger Federer's 20-year association with Nike was hanging by a shoestring on Monday as the Wimbledon champion walked on to Centre Court to open the defence of his title wearing a Uniqlo branded outfit. It became public when he stepped out at the All England Club.
Williams, like Federer, 36-years-old but chasing a 24th Slam title, enjoyed a hard-fought 7-5, 6-3 victory over Holland's Arantxa Rus.
The top seed, however, was wearing Nike footwear as Uniqlo does not manufacture shoes.
"He had become one of their marquee endorsers".
The 28-year-old took Federer to a first-set tie-break in 2017 but a hold in the opening game of the match was as good as it got in the early stages.
Nike said in a regulatory filing past year that "investments in endorsements by high-profile athletes, sports teams and leagues" helped drive sales up 6 percenrt to $34.4 billion.
Roger Federer Leaves Nike for Uniqlo
ESPN reported Federer's earnings on-court are around $116m, making this new deal more than double his current tennis paycheck. Federer, who had been wearing Nike since 1994, will continue wearing their shoes as Uniqlo does not make sports footwear.
"I assume that the RF line that we've come to know will simply go away", Andrews said. Former world number one Novak Djokovic had previously been sponsored by them.
It's not clear whether Nike will continue to market or sell its trademark Federer shoe and clothing line with his initials.
"I was excited to wear Uniqlo today. I must tell you, it's been a long time coming", said Federer.
Uniqlo's current athlete lineup includes Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori and Australian golfer Adam Scott. Nike reportedly paid Federer $10 million a year beginning in 2008. "But like Uniqlo, I also have a great love for life, culture and humanity", Federer said.
"I hope rather sooner than later, that Nike can be nice and helpful in the process to bring it over to me", Federer said.
The Swiss Maestro faces a potential banana skin in the opening round in the form of Dusan Lajovic, who he defeated a year ago in the second round.