On Monday, the girlfriend of the American tennis player Frances Tiafoe posted a video from what she called a “fashion show.” In it, Mr. Tiafoe, ranked seventeenth on this planet, tried on a kit sent to him by Nike, his sponsor, as he readied for the Australian Open.
“It’s definitely so much, but I’m here for it,” his girlfriend, Ayan Broomfield, a tennis player from Canada, says as Mr. Tiafoe walks to a mirror to see the outfit: a sleeveless top and shorts covered in multicolored waves, like an oil slick rainbow or a lava lamp. (In line with Nike, the pattern was inspired by Australia’s terrain.)
“Nah, that’s dope,” says Mr. Tiafoe, who’s wearing sneakers with a cherry blossom design. Ms. Broomfield laughs.
She shared the video on Twitter the day after Mr. Tiafoe debuted the outfit on the court, as a kind of tongue-in-cheek mea culpa in response to some spirited reactions from fans and commentators. “I absolutely loved it on him,” Ms. Broomfield wrote, “so y’all can blame me.” (She also credited Naomi Osaka for his sneakers.)
Mr. Tiafoe wore the kaleidoscopic set in the course of the tournament, including on Friday, when he lost his third-round match. Though that ended his bid for the Australian title, the style points he earned with the kit aren’t so easily revoked.
The 2023 Australian Open
The yr’s first Grand Slam tennis tournament runs from Jan. 16 to Jan. 29 in Melbourne.
With a silhouette that evoked a Twenties bathing suit, the outfit, from a distance, at first resembled a one-piece to fans. The tennis publication Racquet called it “the Big Faux Romper,” nodding to Mr. Tiafoe’s nickname, “Big Foe,” which he wears spelled out on a necklace. The look, the magazine tweeted, “invites you to reject thought and embrace only good vibes. Perfect Aussie summer himbo energy.”
That is the form of message he can surely get behind. Mr. Tiafoe, 25, raised within the era of sports memes, represents a recent form of tennis star — not less than compared with the generation of intense, stately household-name players who rank above him, like Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal. Recently, for instance, Mr. Tiafoe tried to pull down the pants of one other American player during an interview.
He’s goofy. He’s outspoken. And he understands that individuals prefer to have opinions about fashion on the web, writing about his Nike kit on Instagram: “what we predict bout the fit … I ain’t mad at it.”
But his good humor is basically why the look stood out — even amongst other Nike-sponsored players wearing the identical pattern on their shorts or skirts. (None, though, wore the precise matching set cabana-style as Mr. Tiafoe did.) His approach to the sport is flamboyant, fueled by the energy of his audience, said the Racquet co-founder Caitlin Thompson, and so a flamboyant kit suits him.
“Not numerous these guys actually prefer to be flamboyant,” said Ms. Thompson, who suggested other Australian Open players wearing Nike look more like they’re wearing costumes, against their will, “cowed into submission.”
“He’s not only such a goofball, but he looks like a really secure person, and I feel that’s why he’s pulling it off,” she said. “It seems like he’s wearing it, not it’s wearing him.” (Also, she added, the tank top “shows off his guns.”)
The style industry establishment has noticed Mr. Tiafoe, too. In September, shortly after he became the primary American man in 16 years to succeed in the U.S. Open semifinals — where his square-neck pink Nike shirt served as a warm-up to this yr’s much more colourful Australian Open kit — he was seen sitting within the front row of Tom Ford’s spring 2023 show, sandwiched between Russell Westbrook and Ciara.
On the opposite side of Ciara was Anna Wintour, a noted tennis enthusiast who has recruited three players as her co-chairs of the Met Gala: Serena Williams, in 2019; Naomi Osaka, in 2021; and Roger Federer, who was just announced as a chair of this yr’s gala.
Did Ms. Wintour have an opinion on Mr. Tiafoe’s Australian Open look? Reached for comment via email, she said: “Filled with spirit just like the man who wears it.”