Art & Design Interiors & Design

Game, Set, Match! The Lasting Influence of Tennis on Design

Ahead of Christie’s online sale of The Roger Federer Collection, July 13-14, we’re celebrating the sport with a roundup of the best in tennis-inspired design

Anna Wintour, fashion’s best-known tennis fan, famously rises at five every morning to play a game. The Duchess of Cambridge, Kate Middleton, rarely misses a season at Wimbledon and is known for serving up designer courtside looks while in attendance. And, with many stars on the court influencing style and pop culture with their choice of iconic accessories, fashion collaborations, and designer collections, it’s clear the love match between design and tennis goes both ways.

So, during Christie’s online auction of The Roger Federer Collection (open until 14 July), we’re celebrating the influence of the sport on everything from what we wear on our wrists to what we dress ourselves, and our homes, in. Read on for five stylish examples with grand-slam impact.

1. The Tennis Bracelet

Caroline Wozniacki wears a diamond tennis bracelet design while holding a racquet
While diamond-line bracelets had been around since the 1920s, they became known as “tennis bracelets” during the 1980s. Today, the bracelet is a staple of top players such as Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki (pictured here). Image: Alamy

Other sports may influence our fashion choices, but few can claim to have made their mark on jewelry design in the same way that tennis has. The tennis bracelet—delicate, sleek, and ideal for adding sparkle both on and off the court—owes its iconic status to tennis legend Chris Evert.

Evert famously wore a diamond-studded bracelet to the high-stakes U.S. Open in 1987, where it popped off during a match. She asked for the game to be suspended while she looked for it, and the rest is history. It was the first time a traditionally sentimental piece of jewelry was worn in a sporting environment, and the player (and her choice of wristwear) opened the door to a new era of style in tennis.

2. Roger Federer’s Rolex Datejust II

Roger Federer wearing a silver Rolex datejust
In 2009, Roger Federer broke Pete Sampras’ all-time Grand Slam record at Wimbledon, winning an epic five-set match against Andy Roddick. “When I was finally able to lift the trophy, it was with my Rolex Datejust on my wrist,” he recalled afterwards.

More than 20 years later, Roger Federer put the spotlight on another iconic accessory when he beat Andy Roddick at Wimbledon while wearing the yellow steel Rolex Datejust II. The win secured Federer’s 15th Grand Slam title and broke the record for the most gentlemen’s singles titles, a distinction he still holds today.

“When I look at the watch, I remember that day very vividly,” the Swiss tennis legend says, adding that it reminds him to “be tough and even ruthless to some extent, but always be fair and play with style.”

Like the championships themselves, Rolex has long been a bastion of heritage and tradition, which may be why Federer signed a 10-year endorsement deal with the company for the first time in 2006. Rolex’s relationship with tennis extends beyond the star player, however. The company has been a sponsor of Wimbledon since 1978, when it became known as the “Official Timekeeper of The Championships.”

3. Rove Concepts by Maria Sharapova

Maria Sharapova on a couch for Rove Concepts
Inspired by her love for Japanese architecture and simplistic silhouettes, Maria Sharapova designed this Rove Concepts sofa to “radiate warmth and create an inviting atmosphere.”

Long known as a design enthusiast, Maria Sharapova’s first-ever furniture collection features just five living room essentials—the Maria bench, sofa, side table, coffee table, and rug. Each piece is inspired by the tennis star’s love of design, her travels, and her appreciation of handcrafted furnishings.

I’m very inspired by natural textures and hues,” Sharapova explains. “I wanted these pieces to feel timeless. So, if you already have a home that’s furnished, they fit in and you don’t feel that you have to build an entirely new design plan around them.”

The sofa, the collection’s signature piece, pairs a seamless walnut frame reminiscent of mid-century modern furnishings with ample, plush, velvet-soft seating. “I’d describe the collection as extremely comfortable and minimal,” Sharapova says of the sculptural, organic-feeling pieces. And, with a muted color palette of olive green, taupe, and deep blush, the tennis champ says the collection not only reflects her aesthetic sense but is “an homage to my life as an athlete, designer, arts enthusiast, and entrepreneur.”

4. V Starr Interiors by Venus Williams

Venus Williams’ V Starr Interiors collaborated with DMAC Architecture to transform Chicago’s Midtown Athletic Club into a sleek, minimalistic, and stylish space.

Another all-time tennis great, Venus Williams, has made her mark on design with the launch of her Florida-based design firm V Starr Interiors and her fashion-forward, tennis-inspired activewear line, EleVen.

With more than 20 Grand Slam titles under her belt, it’s hard to believe Williams finds the time to run a thriving interior design firm, but she’s been doing exactly that since 2002 and holds a master’s degree in interior architecture. V Starr’s portfolio of eclectic projects includes her sister Serena’s sprawling Spanish-Mediterranean residence north of Miami, several luxury condominium residences, plus athletic facilities and stadium decor at schools such as Williams College.

Of the overlap between her tennis and design careers, and her recipe for success, Williams says “the lessons you learn on the court—being confident, having a winning attitude—are just as important in business.”

5. “The Game” Wallpaper by The Pattern Collective

A wicker chair in front of tennis-themes wallpaper
This tennis-themed wallpaper by Mind The Gap for the Pattern Collective is emblematic of the brand’s eclectic collections and unique designs, which each carry a clear—and often quirky—message.

Smart and elegant, The Pattern Collective’s “The Game” wallpaper adds a stylish nod to tennis in any interior. Printed with eco-friendly inks that are highly durable and odorless, and made from natural fibers sourced from sustainable forests, the wallpaper sports impressive green credentials. Plus, it boasts a designer pedigree: all featured patterns have been created by Mind The Gap, a company known for luxury graphic wallcoverings that mix vintage photos and drawings with contemporary illustrations and patterns.

Learn more about Christie’s online auction of the Roger Federer Collection.

Banner image: The Lounge at the Midtown Athletic Club in Chicago, designed by V Starr Interiors. Image: Getty Images