Roger Federer tweets in emojis. Now he trains in them too. Federer now has a new line of signature Nike performance t-shirts that tell the story of him, his life and tennis—in emojis.
Federer tipped us off to the new line with a social media post that gave a glimpse of one of his shirts—a white Nike shirt with his face in emoji form—and now Nike tells SI.com that they will have a summer of Federer emojis.
“Emojis are a playful way for me to interact with my fans,” Federer says. “These shirts are a really fun way of getting the world of social media into tennis and vice versa. And I'm in the middle of it. I think it's really interesting and fun because I'm all about connecting to the fans. I want them to have a great time when they interact with tennis, either if they see me practice, see my match, or if I sign autographs and take pictures. If they can connect to me in a way with a shirt, that is great as well. They should know that I'd be very happy if they wear one."
The Oregon company hired Hong Kong-based artist Michael Lau in a first-ever venture: creating eight different emojis for use on tees over the summer. The first we saw was Federer’s face—complete with a headband, of course—and in the future we’ll also see designs of his two sets of twins and other creations that connect to the cities that host the sport’s biggest competitions. If Federer, or anyone else, wants to use these emojis, they’ll need a shirt because these designs aren’t available on your phone.
The first release is March 14—available both online and at Indian Wells—with the Federer face shirt, a Just Do It shirt that includes the Federer face and a third RF logo shirt.
The remaining releases of shirt designs will align with “key tennis moments” (read: Grand Slam events) over the course of the summer, allowing Federer to express his love of emoji on more than just social media.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, sneakers and design for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.