It was the summer of 2019 when I first began to brace myself for the end. Most of England was celebrating a remarkable cricket world cup victory. I was mourning the loss of two Championship points, Roger Federer’s last at Wimbledon.

It’s not the first time I remember exactly where I was when the greatest sportsman of all time exited the world’s greatest sporting spectacle (neither claim is up for discussion in my book). Every pre-semi final defeat since 2011 (the year I had recently finished my A-Level exams and was attempting to follow the score of Federer vs Jo Wilfred Tsonga on BBC Sport while on a shopping trip in Bicester Village) is a painful memory.

And I’ll remember where I am when Federer leaves the game forever in London at this weekend’s Laver Cup tournament. Not at the O2, where resale tickets for the Friday night session are being sold for over £1,500 each. The Laver Cup has always been an expensive tournament, but now that Federer has used it as the location for his final bow, ticket prices have become astronomical. Such is the power of a sporting hero.

Sporting apparel companies know this power which is why they have long been willing to pay up to associate themselves with the biggest stars. Perhaps it is giving Federer a little too much credit to suggest he had a hand in the 145% share price rise at Uniqlo’s parent company, Fast Retailing Co since 2018 when he joined the brand. Nike - the affiliation he broke when he joined Uniqlo - has underperformed the market in that time with a share price rise of 86%.

So as the old guard makes way for a new generation at the top of tennis, sporting apparel’s old guard is also on shaky ground. Nike’s long time rival Adidas has endured a miserable five years with its share price down 30%. Under Armour has fared even worse, down 43% in the same time. Meanwhile a host of smaller brands have started to tiptoe into the market by way of Instagram, Crossfit, and wealthy, healthy Gen Z consumers.

The sports apparel industry was valued at $180bn in 2021 and is expected to reach $250bn by 2026. Online sales are driving that growth, with compound annual revenue growth forecast at 12.4% in the period. In theory, there should be…

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