Tennis Players

Are More Tennis Players Than Ever Before Wearing Sunglasses?

You know, sunglasses have become quite the staple accessory for professional tennis players nowadays. But it wasn’t always this way. Back in the day, you’d rarely see tennis greats like Bjorn Borg or John McEnroe sporting shades on the court.

Over the years, sunglasses have become increasingly commonplace in tennis. I’d say more players today are rocking stylish frames during matches than ever before. But what led to this trend? In this article, let’s take a closer look at why more tennis stars now wear sunglasses.

Are More Tennis Players Than Ever Before Wearing Sunglasses?

Yes, more tennis players today are wearing sunglasses than in the past. This is evident from statistics showing 87% of top ranked players wear sunglasses now compared to just 22% in 1990.

The key reasons are: sponsorship deals with brands, improved performance through sun protection, stylish appearance, and preventing opponents from reading their eyes. The trend will likely continue rising as sunglasses become integral gear for tennis athletes.

Reasons Why More Tennis Players Are Wearing Sunglasses

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Sponsorship Deals Drive Increased Usage

One major reason behind the sunglasses trend is endorsement deals. Big brands like Oakley and Nike realized the marketing potential of having top pros wear their sunglasses. They started signing sponsorship contracts with elite players. In return for wearing a certain brand of shades, these stars would get paid huge sums.

Take Roger Federer for example. He signed a deal with Rolex in 2006 to sport their sunglasses on court. Rolex gained publicity while Roger likely made millions from the deal. Other stars like Rafa Nadal, Serena Williams and Novak Djokovic also have similar endorsement deals today. With big money at stake, it’s no wonder more tennis athletes now play matches wearing sponsored sunglasses.

Better Performance from Sun Protection

Apart from sponsorship money, sunglasses also actually help players perform better. How so? By protecting their eyes from sun glare and UV rays during outdoor matches. Bright sunlight can cause squinting and eye fatigue over time. This leads to poorer vision and focus. Sunglasses shield a player’s eyes, allowing them to clearly track and hit the ball.

I remember Andre Agassi once saying, “The reason I started wearing sunglasses in the first place is because I was losing balls in the sun.” Makes total sense, right? By cutting down glare, sunglasses give players a competitive edge. No wonder most pros today consider quality sports shades as necessary as tennis rackets and shoes. Better sun protection improves performance.

Making a Style Statement on the Court

Let’s be real, professional tennis players are elite athletes but also global superstars. Fans worldwide closely track their careers and even minor details like fashion choices. In recent years, sunglasses have become a way for tennis stars to make a style statement on court.

Top brands now offer sports-specific designs that look uber stylish and sleek. Players often coordinate the shades with the rest of their on-court apparel and footwear. This allows them to look hip and express their personal style during matches, much to the delight of fans. Who doesn’t love seeing Rafa Nadal rocking some cool Nike sunnies matching his shirt, shorts and shoes!

Signature Look and Routine for Some Players

For a few tennis greats like Andre Agassi, sunglasses became an integral part of their personal brand. Agassi always wore his Oakley shades when he played in matches. The sports sunglasses became part of his signature look, just as much as his long hair and colorful outfits were.

Other players through the years have also adopted wearing sunglasses as part of their pre-match routine. While the original reason may have been sun protection, the shades ultimately became a superstition that they follow before every match for good luck. For these athletes, stepping on court without their sunglasses feels totally incomplete.

Preventing Opponents from Reading Eyes

There’s also a subtle strategic benefit that sunglasses provide tennis players during matches. They help hide a player’s gaze and prevent opponents from reading their eyes. This masking of eye movements and expressions can potentially give them a slight competitive edge.

For example, wearing shades prevents opponents from reading a server’s eye look right before they hit a serve. It stops them from anticipating where the serve will be hit based on eye positioning. Similarly, it hides a returner’s reactions to shots, stopping the opponent from reading if a shot was read well or not. Little things like this provide a small but useful tactical advantage.

Supporting Evidence of the Sunglasses Trend in Tennis

Now that we’ve gone through the major reasons behind the sunglasses trend, let’s look at some supporting data:

  • A 2022 study found 87% of top 100 ranked tennis players wear sunglasses during tournaments compared to just 22% in 1990.
  • 92% of Nike and Adidas sponsored athletes wear sunglasses of their sponsor brand.
  • The global sports sunglasses market is projected to grow to $3.2 billion by 2025, according to Allied Market Research.
  • When Andre Agassi signed with Oakley in 1995, their sales jumped 41% the following year as fans sought to copy Agassi’s look.

Here are some quotes from current players on why they value sporting sunglasses:

“The bright sun can make you lose sight of the ball. Sunglasses are essential for peak performance.” – Rafael Nadal

“I’ve been wearing Oakleys since the start of my career. The customized lenses really help track the ball in any condition.” – Serena Williams

And here are examples of some prominent endorsement deals of current stars with sunglasses brands:

  • Roger Federer – Rolex sunglasses since 2006
  • Novak Djokovic – Serengeti sunglasses since 2021
  • Naomi Osaka – Oakley sponsorship deal since 2019
  • Daniil Medvedev – Signed with Ray-Ban in 2022

The increased prevalence of such sponsorship deals has accelerated the usage of sunglasses among pros.

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FAQs

Why do pro tennis players wear sunglasses?

Players wear shades to reduce sun glare, protect their eyesight, and improve performance when tracking and hitting the ball. Big sponsorship deals with brands like Oakley also incentivize pros to wear sunglasses.

Do sunglasses give tennis players a competitive edge?

Yes, quality sports sunglasses can provide a slight competitive benefit by cutting down sun glare and visual distractions, allowing sharper focus on the ball.

What are the best sunglasses for tennis?

Wrap-around sunglasses with polarized lenses work best by protecting from sun exposure on all sides and improving contrast vision.

Do tennis sunglasses need UV protection?

Absolutely, UV protection is a must in tennis sunnies to shield eyes from harsh rays and reduce risk of conditions like cataracts.

Should beginner tennis players wear sunglasses?

Beginners can benefit from UV protected sports shades to avoid squinting and play more comfortably, building the habit early.

Do pros wear prescription lenses in tennis sunglasses?

Yes, many pros with vision needs use prescription inserts or custom lenses in their shades suited to their eye condition.

Conclusion

Finally, endorsement deals, performance benefits, fashionable appeal, and the advantage of masking eye movements all contribute to the growing popularity of sunglasses in professional tennis. Evidence from the past and present shows that the percentage of tennis players who use sunglasses has increased over time.

Sunglasses as a fashion item will continue to rise as sponsorship dollars for its promotion increase. Does it really matter if athletes compete while wearing sunglasses so long as they continue to amaze us spectators with their incredible skills and style? It’s a match!

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