Back in March, the ITF's website featured a notice on the revised dress code. It was "effective immediately" except for the limitations on the size of the Adidas three-stripes, which had a June 26 implementation date.
Anyone, junior or pro, who wears Adidas clothing would have to insure that the stripes are no bigger than four inches on each piece of clothing. In this photo of Chardy, it's obvious that he's going to need an entirely new wardrobe.
When Peter Bodo got wind of this back in November, he posted his objection to this restriction, but even someone with Peter's audience and influence couldn't dissuade the ITF from adopting it.
This is a huge blow for Adidas of course, and last month they announced they were suing the Grand Slams over this decision.
John Toppel, Adidas' Tennis Sports Marketing Coordinator, has been keeping me up-to-date on this, as the juniors they sponsor will need to have all their clothing replaced before Junior Wimbledon starts.
He sent me a release explaining their position. An excerpt follows:
In their dress code, the ITF and Grand Slams explicitly state that the adidas "3-stripes" will be considered a manufacturer's identification at their tournaments, which discriminates against adidas and infringes elementary EU competition rights. adidas "3-stripes" are not a standard manufacturer's logo, as the adidas manufacturer's logo is clearly the adidas performance logo. This logo has always been used in conformity with the Grand Slam and ITF Rules regarding Dress. adidas "3-stripes" are an integral part of the product - although a trademark, and not a standard logo - and they have been used for over 30 years in a consistent way, without any objection by the Grand Slams or the ITF.
All other manufacturers try to create identification tools and endeavor to differentiate their products with different patterns, distinctive designs, colors, promotion concepts, etc. However, none of these elements has been pinpointed as constituting a manufacturer's identification in the way that adidas' 3-Stripes have.
In the light of the immense impact of the rule change on the sport of tennis on all levels of play worldwide, on timelines concerning production and retail and on anticipated severe losses, adidas has no other alternative and is forced to protect its interests. adidas has therefore started legal proceedings and issued a claim form at the High Court of Justice in London, which is to being served on the organisers of the Grand Slam tournaments and the ITF. adidas seeks the right to continue to use "3-stripes". adidas is also applying for interim injunctive relief in order to restrain the introduction of the new ruling pending full trial.
I've always been partial personally to the Adidas stripes and style and I agree with Peter Bodo that the ITF is basically punishing success here.
But I'm posting about it because I'm concerned about the juniors who buy their own clothes and can't afford to replace their Adidas outfits just to make sure they conform. Maybe most of those playing the Grand Slam juniors are sponsored, but I assure you that many playing in ITF Grade 5s in College Station or Baton Rouge are not. This is a big, silly mess and tennis has much more important issues to address.
But I don't want to see a player denied a chance to compete because he or she doesn't know about it, so I'm hoping that this helps get the word out.