ellesse backs British tennis with quintet of signings
With five of Britain’s top players now on their books, ellesse has started 2019 by demonstrating its commitment to tennis in the UK.
When headline signing Johanna Konta stepped out on court for the first time in 2019, she did so donning the white, red and blue dress of ellesse, signalling her switch for the first time from her previous sponsor. That was supplemented by the news that Alfie Hewett, seven-time wheelchair Grand Slam winner and world No 3, had also joined the ellesse ranks.
Previous deals for rising star Cameron Norrie and James Ward were both extended and ellesse rounded off their stable of British players by signing youngster Freya Christie.
Say the name ellesse to a tennis fan and the chances are that they will recall Boris Becker winning the first of his three Wimbledon titles as an exuberant 17-year-old back in 1985.
At the time Becker was famed for his flamboyant style of play and needed a kit manufacturer who would help underpin this natural talent and ebullience. The partnership with ellesse was a match made in heaven and Becker was to repeat his Wimbledon feats the following year, catapulting ellesse into the hearts of tennis fans across the world.
So iconic was Becker’s success in ellesse that when Hewett was announced as an ambassador last month he referenced the German, despite the 21-year-old not having been alive at the time of his Wimbledon win. “The heritage of ellesse in tennis runs deep and to know that legends like Boris Becker and Pat Cash played in their clothing makes me proud to now be a part of that rich history,” he said.
Cash, who was also spotted at a young age by ellesse, was another star who would go on to become a Wimbledon champion in 1987.
Becker’s first success came some 10 years after Leonardo Servadio – the founder of ellesse, whose initials are the inspiration for the brand’s name – first took aim at the sport. As a tailor, he had experienced success creating stylish skiwear to fit his needs, but could see a demand in the tennis world for clothing which combined classic Italian style with functionality.
Such was the impact that tennis had on the company, ellesse changed its logo in 1975 to incorporate a design based on the top half of a tennis ball – with the tips of two skis also featuring – in a nod to Servadio’s two sporting passions. To this day, the “semi palla” logo remains.
The ethos of ellesse around sport has always been about combining flair and style in their designs without sacrificing any of the performance features that are essential for athletes competing at the top level of sport.
The opportunity for players to express themselves on court was something touched on by both Konta and Hewett in their announcements. Konta said: “Tennis and ellesse go hand-in-hand and their experience will allow me to go out and play with style. I’m really looking forward to getting back out on the court and showcasing their unique style to the world.”
Hewett added: “There’s plenty of colour throughout ellesse’s range and their style credentials are just as impressive as their performance ones.”
The partnerships have so far proved successful for ellesse and its stars. Hewett reached the semi-finals of the Australian Open doubles alongside long-time partner Gordon Reid and has since made the doubles final of the ABN AMRO World Wheelchair Tennis Tournament in Rotterdam, as well as the semi-final in the singles.
Norrie, having experienced something of a breakthrough year in 2018, has started the new campaign with real intent and reached a career-high world ranking position of No 48 at the beginning of March. He kicked off the year by reaching the final of the ASB Classic in New Zealand and in March reached his first ATP 500 semi-final at the Mexican Open.
Meanwhile Konta successfully battled fatigue and showed her resilience to help lead Great Britain to victory over Slovenia, Greece, Hungary and Serbia in the Fed Cup in Bath last month.
Britain now face Kazakhstan in a play-off next month to decide who will be promoted to World Group Two next year. Victory in London would propel Britain back into the mix with the strongest teams in the world. It is the latest sign that British tennis is on the up, with ellesse hoping to be at the forefront of its rise.
To see the latest ellesse tennis range, visit www.ellesse.co.uk