USTA Announces Polo Ralph Lauren Sponsorship
By Tennis Week
As first reported exclusively by TennisWeek.com on March 8, the United States Tennis Association and Polo Ralph Lauren have signed an agreement for the upscale clothing brand to be the official apparel sponsor of the U.S. Open. The USTA released terms of the agreement on Monday.
In addition to signage both on-court and throughout the grounds of the USTA National Tennice Center, the four-year agreement calls for all U.S. Open officials and ballpersons to wear Polo Ralph Lauren attire. In fact, an official U.S. Open shirt is being designed by Ralph Lauren for the tournament. A Polo Ralph Lauren store will be established at the USTA National Tennis Center for the duration of the tournament, which runs Aug. 23-Sept. 11, including qualifying week, and the U.S. Open/Polo Ralph Lauren clothing line will be available at select Polo Ralph Lauren retail stores.
“We are very excited to be partnering with the USTA and to play such a key role in one of the most celebrated global sporting events,” Ralph Lauren said in the release announcing the partnership of his 37-year-old company with the USTA.
This kind of global sponsorship is unprecedented for Polo Ralph Lauren; however, the brand’s relationship with the U.S. Open is not. U.S. Open full-time tournament staff were outfitted in Polo Ralph Lauren clothing during the 1999 and 2000 U.S. Open tournaments.
Fila had been the official clothing sponsor for the U.S. Open for 22 years until its most recent agreement ended after the 2004 event.
While Polo Ralph Lauren will be the official apparel sponsor of the U.S. Open, Lacoste and Nike will continue to have a retail presence at the USTA National Tennis Center. Lacoste, the brand created 1926-27 U.S. Nationals champion Rene Lacoste, bid on the U.S. Open apparel sponsorship, but was outbid by Polo Ralph Lauren.
Polo Ralph Lauren advertising in years past has included former U.S. Open champion and tennis Hall of Famer Stan Smith’s son Ramsey as one of its models. While signing this sponsorship with the USTA, Polo Ralph Lauren also signed on four-time junior Grand Slam tournament champion Scott Oudsema of Kalamazoo, Mich., to represent the brand. Oudsema, runner-up last year in the U.S. junior national championships at Kalamazoo, will be featured in upcoming Polo Ralph Lauren advertising. Oudsema, teaming with Brendan Evans, won the boys’ doubles title last year at the Australian Open, Wimbledon and the U.S. Open.
“This partnership creates a new, worldwide platform for the integration of fashion and sport -- all part of the unique appeal of tennis,” said Arlen Kantarian, chief executive, Professional Tennis, USTA. “Polo Ralph Lauren will bring a new dimension of style to the US Open.”