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Nike Gathered Tennis's Biggest Stars in NYC to Launch its New Court Collection

On the eve of the U.S. Open, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal and more recreated the brand's classic "NYC Street Tennis" commercial as a surprise to fans.
Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images

Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images

Nostalgia is a huge selling point when it comes to marketing today — even in the fashion business. In recent seasons, we've seen everything from Justin Bieber and Lara Stone reprising Calvin Klein's iconic '90s denim ads starring Marky Mark and Kate Moss, to the return of the original supermodels (Naomi Campbell, Linda Evangelista, Stephanie Seymour) in high-end campaigns for the likes of Barneys, Burberry and Moschino. 

While it doesn't fall directly into the realm of fashion, one of Nike's most famous commercials, filmed in 1995, starred then-champions Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi playing a spontaneous match on the streets of New York (which you can watch below). For the TV spot's 20th anniversary, and the U.S. Open, which kicks off next week, the sportswear brand gathered the biggest stars in tennis — both Sampras and Agassi, along with Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer — to recreate the commercial on Monday night in the Meatpacking district, surprising fans and providing a lively venue for the players to debut the new NikeCourt collection, designed with their talents and personalities in mind.

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Though Sharapova was only eight years old when the Nike commercial was on the air, she fondly remembers the impact it made on her as a child. "It was at the time when I just moved to the United States," she told Fashionista at The Standard, High Line, 17 floors above the makeshift court on Washington Street. "For a young tennis player, it was a really big deal that they got together and did that — [Sampras and Agassi] were always rivals, but they shot it in such a fun and spoofy way that it really stuck with people." 

Sharapova, now a superstar in her own right, has worked with Nike for over a decade, and her namesake collection for the brand is meant to reflect her personal style both on and off the court. The pieces — which can carry her from a match to appearances to press conferences — are centered around the white dress she'll play in at the Open (and models in the photo above), and include lightweight joggers, a transitional vest and a bomber jacket. Admittedly a lover of layering her performance gear with jeans and the occasional statement piece, Sharapova's NikeCourt looks aren't all that dissimilar to all of the "athleisure"-inspired collections we've seen on many runways recently.

After showing a handful of editors their collections, Sharapova, Williams and more took to the court — er, the street — for a match of mixed doubles that not only drew curious passersby but also some bold-faced names from the worlds of fashion and sports. In the front row, Victor Cruz chatted up Anna Wintour, who was cheering on her friend Federer and recent Vogue cover star, Williams. Anyone who claims that the poker-faced Wintour never cracks a smile has clearly never witnessed her watching tennis.

Front page photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images