It’s just over a month since Novak Djokovic ditched Sergio Tacchini to sign a five-year deal with Japanese clothing brand Uniqlo, a company owned by Asia’s biggest clothing retailer Fast Retailing Co. When the deal was announced in Paris, the Serb said he would have input into the designs and would wear Uniqlo clothing both on and off the court, pushing its range of casual wear as well as its sporting goods.
There were rumours at the time that Djokovic had paid a multi-million dollar sum to buy himself out of what had been a long-term deal with Sergio Tacchini, the Italian brand that has been suffering huge financial problems but a Bloomberg report said there was no buyout clause. Fast Retailing’s president, Tadashi Yanai, Japan’s richest man, plans to expand its stores this year. So you would think that the company would want to capitalise on Wimbledon by getting the new Novak range into its shops as soon as possible, boosting sales during the biggest event in the sport.
However, a trip to the Uniqlo store at Westfield in West London revealed that there is no sign of the gear there yet. I am told that if the clothing range does make it into UK stores, it won’t be there until September, which totally defeats the object. Djokovic could very well win his second Wimbledon title a week on Sunday but no one in London will have the chance to buy his kit.
After the Roland Garros grand crème debacle, now the Wimbledon tea scandal. Not just tea, in fact, but everything in the press restaurant at the All England Club is priced at, well, extortionate levels. Whatever the reasons, paying £2.30 for a cup of tea – effectively for a tea bag – is a mark-up which really is taking the mickey. (it is actually free in the press rooms but they regularly run out) In Paris, French Open organisers said they did not know how the prices had been hiked so much (a likely story – a grand crème cost 4.66 euros) and at Wimbledon, the response is equally unsympathetic.
Some members of the media do get a daily allowance of £8 but not all of them do and more importantly, a plate of salad or a main dish costs £10. Considering the long hours everyone does every day, it’s all a little bit unnecessary and even the players think the same way. This is not meant to be a moan – but it’s about fairness.