Roger Federer Returns to Tennis (With a New Look)

This week marks the return to tennis of one Roger Federer—you’ve heard of him, perhaps?—he of the 20 Grand Slam titles and the impossibly elegant moves both on and off the court. After more than a year away from the game due to surgery on both of his knees, Federer resumes play at the Qatar ExxonMobil Open in Doha, squaring off against Dan Evans in a round-one match (Federer has been given a bye into the second round).

His comeback (scheduled for tomorrow morning) comes at an interesting time: Amidst Federer’s absence from the game, his legendary competitors comprising men’s tennis’s so-called Big Three have drawn even with him in different ways: After winning last year’s French Open, Rafael Nadal has tied Federer’s Grand Slam record—and just yesterday Novak Djokovic broke Federer’s almost preposterous record of 310 total number of weeks ranked No. 1 in the world.

Returning after such a long layoff—for someone who has played the game about as well as it’s ever been played—won’t be easy, or instant: He’s planning a slightly lighter-than-usual schedule which includes the French and U.S. Opens but prioritizes Wimbledon in hopes of adding to his already-record eight championships there. But first: Doha. Assuming he shakes the rust off against Evans (Federer’s sometime practice partner), his first real test will likely happen in the quarterfinals, when he could face the 24th-ranked Croatian Borna Coric. After that, it’s likely that only Canadian Denis Shapovalov and fellow Swiss player Dominic Thiem would stand in his way of what would be an incredible comeback title.

Doha also sees Federer debuting a new look: His new Uniqlo Game Wear pieces, designed by Christophe Lemaire (who, in addition to designing his own line since 1991, has headed up collections for Lacoste and Hermès, among others), are made from Dry-Ex material, a moisture-wicking fabric which Uniqlo developed using polyester fibers from recycled plastic bottles.

Like the changes in Federer’s game throughout his storied career, the look is an evolution, not a revolution. “We moved around the placement of the seams for easier movement and added mesh panels for enhanced breathability,” Federer says, before noting how happy he is about Uniqlo’s ability to turn reclaimed plastic bottles into comfortable and functional activewear. “And after being away from competitive tennis for over a year, I’m looking forward to wearing these new items—and am very excited to make my return to the sport I love.”

It seems his comeback was so anticipated that his new collection, below, is all but sold out online. Though the items can still be found at several Uniqlo locations, online inventories will soon be replenished. (The good news is that you can get notified as soon as the tennis goods are back in stock.)

Roger Federer Dry-Ex polo shirt

Roger Federer Dry-Ex polo shirt