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Tennis legend Federer switches to Uniqlo from Nike

Japanese fast-fashion purveyor seeks brand recognition

Roger Federer is Uniqlo's latest brand ambassador.   © Reuters

TOKYO -- Eight-time Wimbledon champion Roger Federer scored an easy first-round win at the All-England Club on Monday wearing a shirt sporting the logo of Japanese casualwear chain Uniqlo.

Coinciding with the match on Centre Court, the Fast Retailing unit announced that it has signed the 36-year-old player as a global ambassador for the brand. Federer's two decades of sponsorship with Nike ended in March.

Federer, who ranks second in the world for men's singles, beat 58th-ranked Dusan Lajovic 6-1, 6-3, 6-4, in 1 hour and 19 minutes.

"Mr. Federer is one of the greatest champions in history; my respect for him goes beyond sport," Fast Retailing CEO Tadashi Yanai said of the 20-time Grand Slam winner in a news release. "Our partnership will be about innovation on and off court. ... I hope together we can bring the highest quality of life to the greatest number of people."

Federer joins Japanese tennis player Kei Nishikori and other athletes as Uniqlo's fifth brand ambassador. The apparel maker will provide wear for matches and receive input from Federer for new products. The multi-year contract is estimated to pay more than $10 million a year.

Uniqlo, which works with materials supplier Toray Industries and international designers to create highly functional apparel that appeals to fashion-conscious consumers, aims to boost its brand recognition.

Golfer Adam Scott of Australia, another sponsorship recipient, has helped Uniqlo develop the Kando ultralight-stretchwear series.

Uniqlo's other athlete representatives include wheelchair tennis players Shingo Kunieda of Japan and Gordon Reid of Scotland. Serbian tennis player Novak Djokovic received sponsorship from 2012 to 2017.

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