Ana Ivanovic will use the crushed red brick at Roland Garros as the backdrop for her return to black, just one foray of style the Serbian player will unveil as part of the brand-new Adidas Y-3 tennis collection.
For the first time, Adidas has teamed with fashion designer Yohji Yamamoto—the Y is for Yamamoto and the 3 for the Adidas stripes—to create a performance-first line intended for elite-level tennis and inspired by fashion, instead of a line simply inspired by sport.
“As much as I enjoy fashion and style, I need to know that the outfit is perfect,” Ivanovic tells SI.com. “I would never compromise my comfort and my movement range over style.”
But with Y-3, Ivanovic plans to meld her worlds together.
“Although I am known for my aggressive style of tennis, I also like to think of myself as a feminine player,” she says. “Tennis is one of those sports where female athletes can look groomed and elegant but at the same time sporty. This is definitely my aim. I like to wear dresses and I enjoy switching looks throughout the season. I believe that how you come across on court actually draw the people in toward you.”
The 27-year-old has the luxury of Adidas custom-making her outfits for the best fit. New for the French Open, though, she’ll break out the Y-3 tennis collection.
“The Y-3 collection is definitely fashion forward,” she says. “It has a very futuristic feel, but on the other hand, some may actually say that it also brings retro elements too, especially with the high-length socks that I love.”
Ivanovic plans to pair the high socks with dresses, offering her a return to black that has “pleased” her fashion sense.
Paul Gaudio, Adidas’ global creative director, tells SI.com, that moving Yamamoto’s work into performance via tennis was an “obvious entry point” because tennis provides such an elegant game. “The French Open seemed like the logical first arena where we would take this step,” he says, noting Yohji has shown collections on Paris runways for years.
With the performance-fashion pairing comes the black that Ivanovic loves so much. “Black is a color that is synonymous with the elegant, romantic work of Yohji Yamamoto and Y-3, so it is a key, important focus in this range as well,” Gaudio says. Along with black, expect vivid floral prints as a defining detail of the footwear for both men and women, with that same pattern appearing throughout the women’s apparel pieces and layered under panels of mesh in the men’s line, “achieving a subtle, masculine floral effect.”
Pairing fashion with performance elements, though, that was a key in making this line relevant for the players, whether Ivanovic or Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. The collection has moisture-wicking technology, dual-layer mesh inserts for enhanced breathability and other construction details, such as raglan sleeves (sleeve stitching all the way to the collar), that allow for better range of motion.
With a performance focus, differences mount between the women’s line and men’s. “This includes elements as obvious as the shape of our bodies to more subtle details such as PH balance and even body chemistry,” Gaudio says.
Along with the fresh threads, Ivanovic plans to wear the new Y-3 shoes, with an outsole featuring a full herringbone tread pattern ideal on clay. Wearing special clay court shoes designed to allow for extra stability while sliding, Ivanovic says having the right pair is important to having a strong base. She won’t break out a new pair for the tournament, rather getting comfortable in shoes during practices so they’re ready for match play, usually wearing the same pair for an entire tournament.
While Ivanovic’s black/floral shoes gather red dust from the crushed brick, know she isn’t thinking about anything other than her game when on the court. Ivanovic has her fashion dialed in before hitting the clay.
Tim Newcomb covers stadiums, design and gear for Sports Illustrated. Follow him on Twitter at @tdnewcomb.