Sunday July 6th, 2014

Wilson has stripped the intrigue off Roger Federer’s matte black racket, which he’s used—quite successfully, mind you—for months, announcing their first “autograph” racket in 40 years.

The Chicago-based company has spent three years developing the new design for Federer's new racket, one that reinvents the popular Pro Staff line with four new models that offer a larger frame, greater sweet spot and more power.

Federer has won in Dubai and Halle using the black racket, a point of intrigue since Federer has used a Pro Staff since wining Wimbledon Juniors in 1998. Federer has long used the 90-inch Pro Staff version, but after “dozens of prototypes,” according to Wilson, the new Pro Staff RF97 Autograph, announced on June 30, has Federer going 7 percent larger with a 10 percent larger sweet spot.

“I love the feel a smaller head provides, and larger rackets couldn’t deliver the feedback I needed to be successful,” Federer says in a statement. “This new Wilson Pro Staff racket has been a long time coming, but I finally have the feel I need in a 97-inch head.”

The re-engineered racket features a 26 percent wider racket beam, still with the braided graphite and Kevlar to maintain the feel of the Pro Staff line. But with more racket, Federer has more power.

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“When we broached the subject of developing a more powerful racket that would still fit his needs for responsive ‘feel’ and attacking style, we jumped at the chance to collaborate with him,” Mike Dowse, Wilson president says about Federer.

In stores Oct. 1, Wilson will unveil four new Pro Staff 97 models. The RF97 Autograph leads the way at 12.0 ounces, about the same weight as the current model, ahead of a slightly lighter version. As part of Wilson’s Spin Effect rollout, the new line will include two different Spin Effect models with differing string patterns. Read more about the Spin Effect movement here.

The Jack Kramer autograph racket from Wilson 40 years ago is the best selling in tennis history, Wilson claims. Wilson and Federer have spent three years perfecting their next autograph, a full collaborative effort to increase the Pro Staff’s size and power, putting matte black into full color.

Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.

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