The women’s Australian Open tennis final last month was one to remember for a number of reasons.  First of all it was the world’s top ranked players, Simona Halep at number 1 and Caroline Wozniacki at 2,  taking the court, an occurrence that rarely happens in a grand slam final (despite the draw structure).  Secondly, the match was an epic three set battle, played over two hours and 49 minutes with two games lasting over 10 minutes a piece.   Both finalists called medical timeouts as they struggled with the intense Melbourne heat and the match was stopped at the end of the second set for 10 minutes as required by the Australian Open heat rules.  The eventual winner was Wozniacki (Denmark), winning her first grand slam title, 7-6 (7-2), 3-6, 6-4.  Thus silencing those who questioned whether the 2009 and 2014 US Open runner up and previous world number 1 (October 2010 to January 2012) would ever win a grand slam.

But despite all those stats and amazing tennis, there was something missing in the Rod Laver Arena on finals day - no logos or branding on Halep’s clothing.  Wozniacki was head to toe in adidas, but Halep was wearing a plain red dress.  Halep’s four year long partnership with adidas finished on 1 January 2018 and the parties had failed to reach agreement on a new sponsorship deal.   Rather than taking the next deal that was on the table, the tournament top seed and then world number 1 decided to wait for a brand that worked for her, even if that meant buying her own dress online and wearing an Australian Open branded visor in the interim. 

While Halep may not have won the 2018 Australian Open title, her perseverance with contract negotiations seems to have paid off, reportedly just signing a sponsorship deal with Nike worth $2 million a year.   We applaud Simona in how she has valued her brand, here’s hoping her new partnership with Nike is a winner!