Federer inks deal with IMG
By Darren Rovell
Roger Federer has relented.
The 24-year-old from Switzerland, who is ranked No. 1 in the world, was the most high-profile athlete in all of the sporting world not to have representation. But on Monday, IMG, the world's largest sports marketing and management agency, announced it had signed him.
"Roger is an international superstar on and off the court and has emerged as a global icon," IMG chairman Ted Forstmann said in a statement. "I am delighted to have the opportunity to work with him both on his business and philanthropic efforts throughout the world."
Federer, who has earned almost $20 million on the court, currently has endorsement deals with Nike, Wilson, Maurice Lacroix and Swiss International Airlines. His parents and his girlfriend have previously handled much of his schedule.
"I continue to work with my team and can use the advantages of both the existing lean structure and a worldwide network at the same time," Federer said.
In an interview for ESPN's "Outside the Lines" filmed last month, Federer said he didn't have an agent because he wanted to be surrounded by people he could trust.
"I really have to say that is maybe one of the reasons I played so well," Federer said. "Because I was really sure what was going on off the court, so I was really happy on the court as well."
Many tennis agents were concerned that Federer did not have an agent because they believed that he was not maximizing his value on endorsement deals. If the world's best player wasn't getting top dollar, it could trickle down to the rest of the industry.
"If he's leaving money on the table, hopefully some of the rest of us can get a little bit of that," James Blake told ESPN, just days before he began his run to the quarterfinals in the U.S. Open.
Federer, who has six career titles, is coming off his second straight U.S. Open victory. The tennis racket used by Federer to beat Andre Agassi in the U.S. Open final is currently up for auction to benefit the victims of Hurricane Katrina. The top bid has surpassed $25,000.
IMG represents some of the world's top tennis players including Blake, Rafael Nadal, Maria Sharapova, Lindsay Davenport and Venus Williams.
Darren Rovell, who covers sports business for ESPN.com, can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org