Former Nike Director Says Split with Roger Federer Was an ‘atrocity’

Roger Federer’s divorce from Nike has always been somewhat shrouded in mystery. Federer left Nike in 2018 after 24 years, the 20-time Grand Slam winner signing a $300 million, 10-year contract with Japanese outfit Uniqlo.

We now have some insight on the defection from Nike’s former tennis director Mike Nakajima, who said losing Federer was ‘an atrocity’.

The director – who has also worked with stars John McEnroe, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi – revealed his thoughts in the book The Roger Federer Effect by Simon Cambers and Simon Graf.

‘That should never have happened. For us to let somebody like that go, it’s an atrocity,’ Nakajima is quoted as saying. ’Roger Federer belonged with Nike for the rest of his career. Just like Michael Jordan. Like LeBron James, like Tiger Woods. He’s right up there with the all-time greatest Nike athletes ever. I’m still disappointed. But it happened. I have to get over it. It wasn’t my decision, and I wasn’t there for it.’

The $300 million, 10-year deal was reportedly beyond the reach of Nike financially.

Nakajima also drew comparisons to Michael Jordan, saying that Nike continued to support the athlete long after he retired. Of course, the deal became the most lucrative sports contract of all time.

‘Nike is still selling millions and millions of pairs of Jordans. When was the last time Michael played? It’s been many, many years. They could have done the same thing for Roger. For years to come, they could have created shoes with an RF logo.’

For more on tennis, check out the five forgotten sneakers of the 1980s and 1990s.

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