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Federer-backed On signing Swiatek and Shelton signals a big move in the world of tennis business
On Running shook things up in the tennis world by signing of women’s world No 1 Iga Swiatek and rising American Ben Shelton for a head-to-toe deal
Roger Federer-backed On Running shook things up in the tennis world on Monday by announcing the signing of women’s world No 1 Iga Swiatek and rising ATP player Ben Shelton for a head-to-toe deal.
The deal signifies a strong push by On in the tennis world with the signing of their first players for an apparel + shoes deal. With Federer retiring from the game last year, On has signed up one of the most promising young American male players and the most dominant female champion in today’s game, one who has been looking to expand her brand value and appeal outside her native Poland and the European market.
Iga Swiatek, who had been with ASICS through her rise to the world No 1 ranking and three Grand Slam titles, said she was ‘very excited’ to become the first female player to sign with the Swiss company.
“I’m very excited to be the first female player to join with On, and truly thrilled how On’s Lightning innovation team works and adapts technologies to meet the demands of athletes, supporting their careers,” she said as quoted by Forbes. “It has been very inspirational for me to develop my ideas and needs with them, working on my current and future gear.”
Swiatek, who added IMG to her team earlier this year, had told Tennis Majors in an interview last month that she was looking for global business opportunities and the On deal seems a big step in that direction for the 21-year-old, who is already the fifth-highest earning female athlete in the world.
“I decided to create my own solution in the area of my management in order to have a complementary team that supports my career,” Swiatek told Tennis Majors in the February interview. “I’m working with IMG and I still have my Polish team where my PR manager is responsible for my communications globally and my partnership manager is taking care of my Polish deals. I’m from Poland and I currently have the biggest impact there and it’s important for me to use it well. IMG joined me to work on global business opportunities and I’m excited to see how it will support my career – this year we’ll have some exciting news. Their assistance is very valuable in everyday life on Tour too. They have a great team and resources to make my life so much easier and it helps me to focus on tennis.”
The other addition to the On team is Ben Shelton, the rising 20-year-old American left-hander who is represented by Team8, the agency that Federer co-founded with Tony Godsick. Shelton won the NCAA singles title last year and has skyrocketed up the ranks over the past 12 months thanks to an Australian Open quarter-final finish in January and three ATP Challenger Tour titles.
With the retirement of Grand Slam winners such as Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi, Andy Roddick, Michael Chang and Jim Courier, the Americans have been searching for a new men’s Grand Slam champion and Shelton is among the leading candidates to follow in the footsteps of his illustrious countrymen.
Both the players will don On’s inaugural line of tennis apparel at this week’s Miami Open, a combined ATP and WTA event. They will also wear On shoes once the new edition of The Roger Pro shoe is finalized.
While Federer may have retired from the sport, the Swiss maestro seems to continue his knack of serving up aces, this time from outside the tennis court.