View Full Version : The Best Tennis Shirts ever made

Brian Purdie
04-02-2004, 10:51 PM
My observations as a tennis clothing fanatic. I've tried to keep the pictures small. If you have any of these, let me know, as I'm trying to collect them!

#1 Zeus, Caesar, & The Fila White Line. There is no comparison between these and their contemporaries. The Borg line ran for several years. Although Borg wore other style shirts at other tournaments during the year, he always wore a version of this shirt at Wimbledon. There were accents of red, green, navy, and light blue on each separate edition, but the shirt was essentially the same. It was the shirt to be seen wearing at country clubs in the 70’s. There’s even a guy wearing it in CaddyShack, so look for it. You might even remember a young qualifier named John McEnroe wearing it at Wimbledon in 1977 when he was under no clothing contract. It sold for $70 at retail back then. That made it super expensive. The cotton itself is very very smooth, thin, and stretchy like underwear. It was a very tight fitting shirt. Today, it sells for hundreds in mint condition, and some of us can only afford to buy up the replicas produced by Fila in 2001 as part of the Settanta (Italian for “seventies”) line of clothing. The Settanta line continues into Spring 2004, but little of the merchandise reaches the US market. The actual name of the shirt above is the “Settanta Signature Polo”. It retails for $60.

#2 What do you do when you retire from tennis? Borg, Conners, & Navtratilova all failed at producing a well known line of clothing bearing their name. Fred Perry, the last Englishman to win Wimbledon, certainly did well, as did Sergio Tacchini. Tacchini built his recognition off of McEnroe during the 70’s and this shirt was the one seen during television appearances by Mac during the Davis Cup and at Wimbledon. The shirt was re-issued as a retro version around 2000. The original is a collector’s item as it sells for hundreds. Why? Because they were made in Italy. It’s part of the whole Italian Sportswear collection of Fila and Tacchini that people collect. In the mid 80’s production went to the far east, and those items are considered to be worth close to nothing in comparison.

#3 The US Open 1990. That was the all time peak in popularity of Andre Agassi. He was everywhere. His popularity had been building, but everyone wanted to see what Agassi was wearing when he came to NYC that fall. It was bright, neon yellow. Some players actually complained that they were afraid of losing site of the tennis ball in Andre’s clothing, but he laughed it off. Agassi seemed primed to win his first major, but he was doomed to face a S&V unknown from SoCal. The shirt was also made for Agassi in a purple colorway for Roland Garros 1991 the following Spring.

#4 The Warrior. I call him Orion. The tag on the shirt calls it the Reve. It was the beginning of a new era in tennis as we knew it. The 19 year old from SoCal was named Pete Sampras, and he was an unknown. Very unknown. For everyone tuning in to watch Agassi win the 1990 US Open final, they got a shocking surprise. This hard hitting S&V kid from nowhere was about to give us all a lesson in form, technique, and nerve. It would take Sampras another 2 years to repeat his feat of winning another slam title, but they simply kept coming one after another. This was the shirt that started it all.

#5 Code Violation. Verbal Abuse. Default Mr. McEnroe. What was supposed to be John McEnroe’s last great year on tour ended prematurely in January during the QF of the Australian Open against Micheal Pernforns. The rules of 1989 required 3 code violations before a default. The 1990 rules were changed to allow only 2 code violations before default. The memo never reached Mac’s desk. Mac berated a line judge and broke a racket. Those were his two lifelines. The chair umpire called out Ken Ferrara, and the call was made official. Mac was out. He had a great amount of success in 1989 reaching the SF of Wimbledon and finishing #4 in the world. He was part of the new ad campaign for Nike touting the more conservative line of Challenge Court tennis clothing by Nike. Mac spent most of February, March, April, and May at home sheltered from the tour. One particular outing in February in Philadelphia that year placed him in the finals against a young Pete Sampras. Mac lost the match, and Sampras gained his first title. Mac went back to his Malibu home and volleyed around for a few months of training. Said sportwriter Richard Evans at the time: “Mac never did his homework all the way through his great years. He has always been one of those naturally talented players. He could go out, practice for a half hour, and play the greatest tennis in the world. Now he has to do the home work and I don’t think he can do it”. McEnroe agreed. He skipped Roland Garros that year and opted to spend those two weeks in New York on the grass courts preparing for his London voyage.

Lendl, too, skipped the majority of the red clay court events that year, including Paris. This was his second Spring of total dedication to preparing on grass. He went down in the 1989 SF to Becker.

As it happened, The great Queens Club tournament was underway in London one week prior to Wimbledon. Defending champion Ivan Lendl, Boris Becker, Stefan Edberg, and John McEnroe all made it to the semifinals. Mac faced Lendl on his side of the draw, and Lendl defeated him in a cakewalk. McEnroe left Queens with a lot of work to do, but never produced, losing in the first round of Wimbledon to Derrick Rostagno. It was a sad end for McEnroe, but he would have one last hurrah, the US Open. Mac made it to the SF’s only to fall to Sampras. Mac only struggled after 1990, and made it to the 1992 SF at the Australian Open and Wimbledon.

Brian Purdie
04-02-2004, 10:51 PM
Honorable Mentions:
Snake Skin. It was actually called the Hide N Sleek polo. Max Myrini wore it. He was man enough to wear the “Chili Red” version of the shirt. Definitely one of the most underrated shirts of the Nike line featured at the 2001 US Open.

The Jerry Garcia. Again, Nike goes undervalued while creating a classic tye-dye version of the Cool Motion Shirt. This is defiantely one for the ages, and will be sought after in the future. Carlos Moya and Roger Federer wore it on a few select occasions.

Style returns to Tacchini. Juan Carlos Ferraro decided that he didn’t care about Nike as much as he wanted to be sponsored by the classic Sergio Tacchini line. One thing was lacking. Tacchini had shrunk in size and distribution and style. Tacchini was no longer available in the US after 2000, and it’s styling was in the toilet. Word of a top player like Ferraro signing on put the designers to work. In the fall of 2002, the Tacchini folks finally started making cool shirts again for the first time in years

The denim shorts: They were originally made for McEnroe, but he refused to wear them and found them in bad taste. Sixteen year old Andre Agassi didn’t think so. He wore them for several years, even with spandex underneath. The Spandex trend caught on and even Sampras was wearing white Tacchini shorts with Spandex. Heck, even Sampras was wearing denim shorts by the mid 90’s.

This 1990 Spring Agassi line that helped put him on the map. It was the first of the Spandex shorts. Nike put more money into production and promotion of this line than any other prior to it. Agassi was seen wearing the clothes all Spring long in Tennis Magazine ,and at his final round appearance at Roland Garros. But how on earth did he lose to Andres Gomez?

Andre the Pirate: 1995 They ran commercials of Agassi vs. Sampras as if it were the showdown in Manilla. It was a pretty tremendous finale in 95 at the Open in NYC. Agassi had taken the AO from a greif-stricken Sampras in the finals, the first of his many AO titles. Futhermore, Double-A was #1 in the world. Sampras was #2. It was Sampras who won the title in NY that year in the final, and the year ending tournament to clinch yet another year end ranking #1.

04-03-2004, 11:45 AM
Good list, Brian. I always did like that Sampras ST shirt. I'll add some of my favorites.


The Adidas Ivan Lendl, IL graphic shirt. Very nice shirt. It took me about 3 or 4 months before I figured out that the image wasn't just abstract shapes - it had the letters IL in it. I always liked how Adidas made personal shirts for their top players, Lendl and Edberg.

I know you're a fan of this old Nike shirt, because you mentioned in your signature you're been looking for it.


Alright, how about this Fila shirt Becker wore in the early '90s. Definitely one of my favorites.

Okay, those are my additions. Here's a thought, how about the worst Tennis shirts ever? That's much more fertile ground. Here's my vote:


This was the shirt Phillipe Charier called a clown suit.

Swan Song
04-03-2004, 04:25 PM
Does anyone know where I can find a Reebok shirt w/ the British flag and the one that almost everyone wore(the one w/ diagonal stripes w/ one going around the shirt). It was worn by Chang, Mecir, Arantxa, and Venus before she became a pro.

04-03-2004, 05:26 PM
Wow, Brian, what can I say...that's the most magnificent tennis clothing writing I've ever seen, and I mean that. What about shorts, I never have been much of a tennis-polo wearer, just t-shirts, but I like shorts I got some sweet Fila shorts with underwear sewn in them.

04-03-2004, 08:21 PM
Own the Adidas Lendl all-cotton warm-up but never knew that snake-skin Nike shirt was called the Hide and Sleek. In fact, posted that question. Brian, I have an all-black Nike shirt with a sheer fabric under the arms. Would you know its name?

04-03-2004, 08:27 PM
Brian, saw the shirt on your **** auctions. Thanks for posting.

Brian Purdie
04-03-2004, 09:03 PM
Lemons, the one thing about that Becker shirt. I have seen pictures of him wearing that on court at the 1989 Wimbledon. However, they require "predominately white" clothing. I don't know how he got away with it.

Ronaldo, your sheer sounds like a cool motion polo from the last two years. Unfortunately, they weren't given creative names like the others.

By the way...the only shirt to make the cover of Wheaties:

04-04-2004, 07:41 PM
Brian - I remember when Becker wore that shirt at Wimbledon. I want to say it was around '90 or '91. I believe he only wore for one or two matches and then the All England Club committee (or whatever their ruling body is) asked him not to wear it since it wasn't "predominately white."

david aames
04-04-2004, 09:40 PM
No Lacoste? What about that yellow Le Coq Sportif shirt that Noah was wearing when he won RG? No Ellesse?

Personally, I'm a big fan of one specific Nike collection -- remember when Sampras was sporting a short beard and Agassi a Bandana? Their Australian Open final that year was a display of good taste as far as tennis clothing is concerned.

I think the sleeveless Nike Shirt worn by Blake and Moya is groundbreaking and stylish. Someone got a code violation for going sleeveless last year at the aussie if I remember well?

Brian Purdie
04-05-2004, 03:53 PM
Lacoste and Fred Perry. I have issues with these people. They seem to have been small companies that sold out in the early 80's (Lacoste) and late 90's (Perry) to street style. Having a Fred Perry track Jacket is about the coolest ting to wear if your 19. More than half the people wearing them don't know who Fred Perry is or what happened to his comapny after his recent death some few years ago. It changed marketing direction, as did the popularity of Lacoste and it's Izod shirts in the early 80's. It's not that I don't love a good profit, but they just don't seem like tennis clothes anymore. They're marketed and worn as everyday wear.

04-16-2004, 09:57 AM
my list (if i remember them correctly):

nike faded checkerboard - agassi and mcenroe wore it, had a ~ 1.5 inch horizontal checkerboard strip across the front and back

adidas lendl argyle

fila borg pinstripes

le coq sportif yannick noah, white shirt with yellow & teal graphics, plus black stripes

07-20-2006, 01:57 PM
Speaking of Yannick Noah...his shirts were amazing. I owned 2 of them in the early 90's and have no idea who made them. They had a YN logo on the chest. Anyone have any info on these?.. they are impossible to find info on on the internet.

07-20-2006, 02:43 PM
Definately love the Nike checkerboard polo along with the grey and black "Mac Attack" shoes!

Pen Express
07-20-2006, 03:29 PM
I really like the aqua-coloured Power Polo Federer wore at the Australian in 2005. By the time I had realized how much I liked it, it was sold out everywhere. :(

07-20-2006, 03:49 PM

This thread is more than 2 years old!


Lleyton Hewitt
07-20-2006, 03:54 PM
the t-shirts that have a zip with the nike tennis sign....the tennis court sign

07-21-2006, 03:55 AM
I have a nominee for the WORST shirt. That entire Stephan Edberg line. (I think they were ST's?)

07-21-2006, 07:23 AM
Definately love the Nike checkerboard polo along with the grey and black "Mac Attack" shoes!

Our HS tennis team my senior year all had the Mac Attack as our team shoes.

07-21-2006, 02:32 PM
Our HS tennis team my senior year all had the Mac Attack as our team shoes.

I would love to see nike bring those shoes back. Bring back the old air trainers as well. I burned through so many pairs of those:mad:

07-21-2006, 02:50 PM
The shirt that Hrbaty wore last year at the US Open

10-04-2011, 03:22 AM
I like the topic of this thread.

10-06-2011, 05:05 AM
photos please :P

borg number one
10-06-2011, 05:32 AM
Great posts and great thread. I agree with #1. The Fila shirts that Borg popularized were so soft and thin. The cotton almost felt like silk. Borg's Fila shirts at Wimbledon are absolutely iconic.



10-07-2011, 03:52 AM
It reminds me of barcelona or some soccer team :P
Wow...huge backswing ^

10-07-2011, 04:00 AM
You can buy this shirt on TWhttp://img.tennis-warehouse.com/new_big/FMBP-1.JPG

Al Czervik
10-07-2011, 05:10 AM
There’s even a guy wearing it in CaddyShack, so look for it.



10-07-2011, 08:26 AM
Jelena Dokic