WIMBLEDON – Wilson's Jack Kramer Autograph, back in the wooden racket days, is the best-selling racket in tennis history.
It's doubtful tennis lightning will strike twice with the company's new Roger Federer autograph. But after several years of the seven-time Wimbledon champion experimenting and tinkering with new frames, he's comfortable with the one he's currently playing with.
And that means the Wilson marketing machine can be set in motion.
Here's the opening paragraph of their publicity blurb.
"For months Roger Federer’s stealthy, matte black racket has been the source of conjecture and debate amongst tennis fans. Wins in Dubai and Halle, along with several finals appearances amplified the buzz surrounding his new secret weapon. After three years of development and dozens of prototypes, Roger Federer and Wilson officially announced the new Wilson Pro Staff line of rackets, which they collaborated in developing."
There's a particular skill in that sort of prose. The use of the word "stealthy" is a great touch.
The rackets, which will be called the "Pro Staff" line in a nice harkening back to the past, when it seemed half the players on Tour (including Pete Sampras), played with Wilson Pro Staffs, won't hit stores until Oct. 1 and they haven't "finalized the graphics", meaning we can't be sure exactly what they'll look like.
But they will have a "Roger Federer Autograph" model as the flagship of the new lineup.
Wllson says the "Wilson Pro Staff RF 97 (three of the four sticks in the line will have the relatively small 97-inch head) is 7% larger than Federer's old one, resulting in a 10% larger sweet spot.
The President of Wilson is loving this.
“When it comes to his tennis career, Roger is a chess master, always thinking several moves ahead,” said Mike Dowse. “So 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. This racket represents the most extensive collaboration between an elite player of Roger’s caliber and Wilson. The result is a groundbreaking racket that will benefit tennis players worldwide.”
The company is doing a series of videos leading up the launch of the racket. This first one starts out with a major claim: "Roger Federer is the greatest human tennis player."
You have to figure they'll sell a ton of these. They sold plenty of the earlier model Federer endorsed even though it didn't officially have his name on it, and it was hardly a secret that it felt and played nothing like the one Federer actually used but merely was painted in similar colours.
The average buyer probably didn't know that, though; they just accepted the fact that they couldn't do what Federer did with the stick because, well, he's the greatest human tennis player ever. It appears this one might be a little closer to Federer's actual stick, if only because the specs are a little closer to your average 21st-century tour player's racket.
Well, closer; 97 square inches would still be considered below the mean - especially for your average club player.
It looks like they're going to give it a massive push. Expect to be bombarded while you're watching the U.S. Open.