Soft and absorbent: the universal appeal of player towels
Don’t look now, but there is a gift-store item that is quickly becoming an icon and cult item from tennis events around the world. You’ve definitely seen them. Maybe you’ve even felt one, either after a player throws his sweaty one to the crowd after a brilliant 5-set win, or in your bathroom, at home, as you get out of the shower. We speak, of course, about the player towel. The fancy ones designed by artists that the players themselves love (covet?) so much they try to smuggle them into their tennis bags. (Serena is reportedly one of the most notorious towel-takers on tour.)
What's so special about these pieces of cotton?
They look good, of course. They’re usually re-designed every year and bear sport imagery and event logos that make them a perfect souvenir. The fact that the players get the exact same ones to use on court imparts a certain degree of status as well. Gear hounds love using the same racquet and shoes as players, even though those things are usually customized and not truly accessible to you and I. The towel, though, is the low-hanging fruit for the gear aficionado who wants their stuff to be the same as the pros. There’s no customization or special construction, and it’s not watered-down as it makes its way into the tournament gift shop. It is, simply, a towel of woven cotton—measuring 26×41 inches in Paris and 26×60 inches in Melbourne and London.
Kim Sears loves Wimby player towels
Which brings up another advantage of the towel, and one that no less a towel authority than Andy Murray reinforced when he said, “my wife likes them. I think they’re quite good quality towels.” Yes, for upwards of $50 USD per towel, they do offer a high quality towel experience. The Wimbledon version, for example, which much like the tennis event itself is seen as the pinnacle of the towel world, is jacquard woven and made in collaboration with Christy Linens, who became the Official Towel Supplier to The Championships, Wimbledon in 1988 and whose website proudly states that the towels are favorites of Andy Murray and Serena Williams.
Taking is cool
It’s an interesting phenomenon when a celebrity’s inclination to take and hoard a mostly-complimentary item becomes a prime marketing point, but such is the attraction of player towels at notable tournaments. To be fair, we are not immune to the appeal, and many Grand Slam Tennis Tours staff members have made annual trips to the gift shops to pick up a towel or three for souvenir-worthy friends back home.
We have two prime towel opportunities each year at the Australian Open and Wimbledon, so do your friends a favor and bring them something beautiful to dry off with. (FYI: Grand Slam Tennis Tours sometimes provides tournament towels as Welcome Gifts.)
Image: Flickr, johnwnguyen. Licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 2.0 Generic license.