Rolex has long supported
the world of tennis; its partnership dates back to 1978, when the brand became the official timekeeper of the championships for Wimbledon. The Swiss watchmaker continues to champion women in the sport, selecting exceptional tennis talent, including icon Chris Evert and new guard-players Angelique Kerber and Garbiñe Muguruza, as brand ambassadors (known as “testimonees”). We caught up with them at the Indian Wells Masters in Indian Wells, California, where they spoke about how the tennis landscape has changed, preparing for a big match, and how not to lose your cool when the game isn’t going as planned.
Categorizing Chris Evert as a living legend would be an understatement. She comes from a different era of tennis, when players had a rock ‘n’ roll aura that was unique to them. Beyond the exterior, Evert’s game was electric and incredibly fun to watch. How else did she land those 18 Grand Slam titles—among many others—and remain number one for 260 weeks in her career? Today, she’s one of the most entertaining commentators on ESPN and we can’t stop listening to her. What do you love most about your partnership with Rolex? When I was growing up, there was John Newcombe but there was also Virginia Wade, there was always a woman, an iconic woman who was wearing the watch. I always felt at Rolex, they treated both sexes the same way. They always make good choices as far as the champions on and off the court. It’s not only about your tennis; Rolex picks women that have a great attitude and a great aura about them. How has tennis changed on the women’s side since you played professionally? On the business side, there’s more money, there’s more sponsorship, there’s more exposure with TV and print, and on the physical side, the women are training harder now. In our day—in the ’70s—we didn’t train like Olympic athletes, and nowadays, the women tennis players are Olympic athletes. Yes, their rackets are different and yes the strings are different but they’re also physically different and it’s definitely a power game for the women.
At 22, Garbiñe Muguruza defeated Serena Williams and she’s quickly proving to be the one to watch—or in Serena’s case, the one to watch out for. The Spanish-Venezuelan player oozes grace and optimism, something that helps her keep level-headed. How do you maintain a competitive approach to your game without losing your cool? It’s hard, but it’s part of the game as well. You have to deal with that constantly because you’re on the court and you’re very emotional—things are going to be hard. You’re out there alone, you have to fight against another girl, but you also have to fight against yourself sometimes: you have your own demons. You have to have experience, to get to know yourself, and know that if I do this, it’s not going to go well, if I do that, it’s not going to help me. Do you remember the first Rolex watch you ever were gifted or wore? Around 2013, I had a very good year; I finished up 20 [in the WTA ranking] and wanted to get something really special for myself. My dad wore a Rolex, my mom wore a Rolex and I decided, “I need a Rolex.” I went to the shop with my entire family and bought my first watch and engraved my name in the back. I wore the watch in my first photo shoot with the brand. It’s very special to me and it was the first thing I bought that meant I had achieved something.
Angelique Kerber is living proof that with hard work and determination, excellence can be achieved. The German native got off to a rocky start early in her career. Fast-track to 2017 and Kerber is number one in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) rankings, putting her beloved country on the tennis map once again. How do you physically and mentally prepare before a big match? When I started on tour I was always a player with a lot of ups and downs. I think you have to understand that sometimes we can play badly or a situation might come up that you don’t want. Speaking with your team and the support of the people around you is important. Everything can happen all at once and it’s not so easy, but you have to do it and you have to make the decision to have a better attitude. How do you feel about representing your country in a sport like tennis? It’s an honour playing for Germany because I grew up there and I was always watching Steffi Graf when she was playing—she was my idol. After Steffi and Boris [Becker]—which was 20 years ago—it was tough to maintain this level of tennis in Germany. But in the end we have so many great German players right now and I try to represent my country as best as I can. I think after what I achieved last year, there are lot more people taking the record again in Germany.