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Posted: Wednesday July 8, 2009 12:51PM; Updated: Friday July 10, 2009 1:39PM
Jon Wertheim Jon Wertheim >
TENNIS MAILBAG

Ridiculous attire doesn't fit Federer

Story Highlights

Roger Federer did himself no favors with his accessorizing at Wimbledon

Unfortunately, Federer has been transformed into King Bling

Under Larry Stefanki's tutelage, Andy Roddick has made demonstrable gains

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Roger Federer's wardrobe has grown gaudier as he has collected more major titles.
Paul Gilham/Getty Images
Jon Wertheim's Mailbag
Jon Wertheim will answer questions from SI.com users in his mailbag every Wednesday.
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While mourning Mathieu Montcourt and thinking how downright creepy it is that two players penalized recently by the ATP for petty gambling infractions --Federico Luzzi is the other -- have died ...

Fed's great. We get it. But come on -- sporting a new jacket with "15" on it minutes after surviving a match he probably should not have won? Why won't the media call him on this?
-- Stephen Thomas, Greensboro, N.C.

• I'll call him on that. Anyone who breaks the all-time record for majors, winning the Wimbledon final 16-14 in the fifth set, deserves a day of unconditional love. But now that it's Wednesday -- and 72 hours have elapsed -- I'll join the many of you who wrote in critiquing Federer's ridiculous attire.

As we said a few weeks back, the guy's tennis might be incomparable but his accessorizing leaves a lot to be desired. First, there was the gold man purse, the kind of accoutrement that begs for ridicule. Next, there was the Sergeant Pepper jacket. A friend asked me if it were "an inside joke kind of thing," and sadly I had to report that it wasn't. The jacket was, of course, covering a gold-striped shirt and shorts. Plus, there were the gold shoes, embroidered with Federer's initials. For a sport that still needs to shed its country club perception, it doesn't help when the top player looks like he was dressed by Brüno.

The pičce de résistance, however, was that "15" jacket Federer donned immediately after winning Sunday's final, an article of clothing that simultaneously managed to be presumptuous, self-aggrandizing and sensationally tacky. A penny for Andy Roddick's thoughts, knowing that someone considered him such an unworthy opponent that the celebratory outfit had already been embroidered and carried onto the court. That it was followed, at least on American television, by a Federer NetJets ad was somehow fitting. (Good thing we're not in a recession and concerned about, you know, environmental impact.)

Beyond the fashion police ridicule, I think there's a bigger issue here. Who exactly is tasked with Federer's image these days? Why does this person have a job? And why is Federer allowing Nike's agenda to undercut an image that, much like his old attire, needed no further ornamentation? Here was a guy once lauded -- very rightfully -- as a populist champ, an unparalleled player who still projected modesty and quintessentially Swiss stoicism. This Rick Reilly column (which compares Federer's plain folk appeal to the gaudy opulence and crass consumption of Tiger Woods) nails it. That column was from 2007, and reading it now, it seems mighty dated.

Whose bright idea was it to transform that thoroughly likable guy into King Bling? Did the Nike marketing data really indicate that kids would warm to all those elitist touches? Is the gold man purse making a surprise comeback? This is the personification of "gilding the lilly." It does not say "elegance" any more than a fleur-de-lis back tattoo says "French." Here's hoping it's a phase and Federer takes back some ownership of his portrayal. I've gotten a ton of mail on this and I know I'm not alone when I say this: Roger, we'd rather look at your titles.

How come no love for mixed doubles champions Mark Knowles and Anna-Lena Groenefeld in your parting shots from Wimbledon?
-- Brandon, Mason, Mich.

• Maybe next time they'll have the courtesy to finish before my deadline. But props to the aforementioned pair, doubly so for Groenefeld, who's back after descending to a pretty dark place a few years ago.

I'm not sure if you have answered this before: The entourage of both players are seated in the same box at Wimbledon. Why? Who decides which group sits in front of the other? I think this could always present an awkward situation for both sides.
-- Ramil Medina, Singapore

• As a rule, the higher seed gets to pick, hence the Federer posse gets the front row. I know that at the U.S. Open, American players get the choice box, a policy that, shall we say, displeased Jelena Jankovic's mom last year.

Regarding the following from your 50 thoughts on Wimbledon: "And keep an eye on this: Martina Hingis' ban lapses in October, a day or so after her 29th birthday." Don't tease. Really? Might we see some much needed star-power and crafty play return in the form of Ms. Hingis?
-- Jay, Phoenix

• No tease intended. Just saying that the ban lapses and, at a minimum, at least she'll be allowed back in the Grand Slam venues. Will Hingis come back? After all, 29 isn't ancient. This is total speculation, but I wouldn't hold my breath. While Hingis might be tempted (and she stayed in shape in her absence), there's a difference between winning a match here and there, and being competitive week in and week out.

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