Bianca Andreescu gives Nike a dressing down at US Open before issuing apology
On Sunday, Bianca Andreescu apologized to Nike for the way she spoke to its US Open team members on the eve of the tournament. (Getty Images)
It was a chilly and rainy morning at the US Open a couple months back. And for a handful of people, the mood was somber.
Bianca Andreescu, the tennis star from the Dominican Republic who had just been eliminated from the year’s first Grand Slam, had taken a seat on the edge of the courts. She stared straight ahead with a look of grim determination on her face as she waited for her opponent to reach the net.
Nike, the shoe company that had sponsored Andreescu, had recently released a new line of tennis shoes that were meant to be a statement about the company’s place in the world of women’s tennis. The brand had created a special “Bianca Andreescu” shoe that showed Andreescu standing on the court, holding her racquet with her hands clasped in prayer. It was a subtle but significant attempt to shift Andreescu’s identity away from the glamorous player she became during the U.S. Open’s 2010 and 2011 championships and toward a role closer to the “courageous woman who overcame adversity” who started playing tennis as a child.
But for Andreescu, the new shoes did not go down well. Andreescu, who hadn’t shown her face to reporters until that morning, spent the next few hours explaining to Nike and its US Open representatives why she felt it was inappropriate to show images of her celebrating an upset victory. She told reporters the move was especially hurtful to one of her teammates, who wasn’t present at the US Open, but who said Andreescu’s behavior made her “uncomfortable.”
One of the US Open representatives who was on the court that day did not take too kindly to Andreescu’s decision. During one of her first days on the court, Andreescu had walked to the net, holding her racquet, and spoke to team members standing around her. While Andreescu’s words to Nike were her way of expressing how she felt about the shoes — she said the images were disrespectful to the girls who hadn’t been present at the US Open who had been on the court with