Today’s Flashback Friday is dedicated in equal parts to Nike and Rafael Nadal’s biceps, both of which made an otherwise not-so-flattering shirt style into a thing of beauty. The sleeveless shirt will forever be fondly enshrined in our memories of a younger Rafa.
When Rafa first wowed us with his talent, he cut a remarkable figure in his parachute pants, long hair and headband, his rippling muscles on full display. He looked formidable; one just knew that any shots hit by those arms would be killer. He looked particularly good ‘vamosing’, pumping his fist and lifting his knee. It became a signature of sorts. Nike dressed him in bright colors that made his tanned skin glow.
And then, just like that, the sleeveless shirt was gone. People had mixed reactions to this. Some were happy, others disappointed. There was even a petition to Nike to bring it back. Rafa was asked about it in his pressers, and Jim Courier even brought it up in an on-court interview, asking Rafa to bare his arms once more (Rafa obliged).
When asked why this change was made, several explanations were given. Rafa was no longer a teenager, and he needed to dress more age-appropriate. Nike needed to make shirts that were more buyer-friendly. It was simply time to reinvent. Whatever the reason, Rafa’s look went from unique to more mainstream. He still stood out, though. He looks great in anything he wears.
Nike did make it up to us. We may not have sleeveless shirts anymore, but we have short shorts. 😉
Enjoy the photos!
Photos: AP, AFP, EFE, Getty Images, Reuters, Zimbio, Fanpop, JustJared, & RNFC archives.