It was the kind of bag you may spot in the overhead bin of an airplane’s first-class cabin. Except it was being carried onto Centre Court at Wimbledon by a 6-foot-2-inch redhead.
Jannik Sinner, 21, the Italian tennis player ranked eighth in the world, broke from tradition Monday when he emerged on court with a custom-made duffel bag wrapped in Gucci’s “GG” monogram, its red and green straps slung over a shoulder.
To the average sports fan, this may not seem so extraordinary. In basketball, tunnel walks have become mini fashion shows as players make their way to their locker rooms drenched in designer clothing and accessories.
But that kind of sartorial energy has not yet come to tennis — especially not to Wimbledon, the most traditional of the four Grand Slam tournaments, with its strict all-white uniform requirements. (This is the first year that women playing at Wimbledon are allowed to wear nonwhite underwear, to ease anxiety around periods.)
Players at Grand Slams abide by a rule book that regulates what they can wear and carry onto courts. There are limits on the size, placement and number of logos on their sleeves, collars, headbands, socks and, yes, equipment bags.
Many players carry both a racket bag and a personal duffel bag onto court, but typically they’re obvious athletic bags. A few hours before Mr. Sinner’s match began, for example, Novak Djokovic (ranked second in the world) walked onto Centre Court with two white bags made by Head, his racket sponsor.
Mr. Sinner’s appearance with his duffel was the first time, Gucci said, that a tennis player has been cleared to carry a luxury logo-ed bag on court. Even players beloved by the fashion world, like Roger Federer and Serena Williams, who had a close relationship with Gucci, had not done so before their retirements. For Ms. Williams’s final match last year, she carried a Wilson racket bag and duffel stamped with her own Nike monogram logo.
Mr. Sinner, whose initials also appear on his Gucci bag, was named an ambassador for the brand last July. Gucci said it worked with Mr. Sinner’s team for approvals from the International Tennis Federation, the Association of Tennis Professionals and the Grand Slams, including Wimbledon, to ensure that the bag met the necessary requirements. He carried his rackets in a standard white Head bag.
Gucci isn’t the only luxury house looking to align itself with young tennis stars. Naomi Osaka and Carlos Alcaraz have been ambassadors for Louis Vuitton. Mr. Alcaraz, 20, who is ranked No. 1 in the world, was announced as a Vuitton ambassador on June 28, just five days before Wimbledon began. The same day, Gucci held a swanky private dinner for Mr. Sinner in London to celebrate his third year at Wimbledon.
Mr. Sinner and Mr. Alcaraz are budding rivals among the next generation of men’s tennis stars. At last year’s U.S. Open, they played a quarterfinals match that lasted more than five hours, ending before 3 a.m. — the latest a U.S. Open match had ever finished.
Unlike Mr. Alcaraz, Mr. Sinner does not have a Grand Slam title, although tennis prognosticators are hopeful. The Italian does have one thing the Spaniard does not: a fervent group of fans, called the Carota Boys, who dress in carrot costumes and travel to tournaments to support him.
Mr. Sinner does not appear to view the bag, which was made in a canvas material with a leather trim, as a serious break from tradition. In an email, he wrote that he was very fond of traditions, including Wimbledon’s dress code. For the bag’s design, he and Gucci wanted “something that could have been drawn from Gucci’s archives.”
The straps are removable and the inside contains hidden water bottle pockets. He said he’ll use it to carry a change of clothes, nutritional supplements, sunscreen and anything else he may need for a few hours on court.
Asked if he made any specific requests to Gucci, Mr. Sinner wrote: “I wanted the bag to be comfortable to carry and have enough to keep all my stuff inside. My priority was functionality, I guess.”