Indian tennis player Sania Mirza made her return to the courts last week as she took to the grass courts at Wimbledon to participate in the Women's Doubles and Mixed Doubles competitions.
While the return was a happy one, there was one unusual thing as she advanced to the Round of 16 in the Mixed Doubles competition after being eliminated in round two of the Women's Doubles event.
Mirza started the tournament wearing a Nike top while the rest of her attire, including her cap and shoes, were Adidas. In the subsequent game, the Nike top was replaced by an all Adidas attire, suggesting there was a sponsorship deal in place. However, when she took to court on Saturday, 3 July, she was back with a mixture of Adidas and Nike.
While there are instances where players wear different brands of clothes and shoes (Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic are examples), this is the first time we have spotted a tennis player wearing Nike and Adidas together.
Having reached out to Cornerstone, the agency that manages Mirza, we learned that the former number one in Women's Doubles picked out the attire on her own and she had no sponsorship contract in place with either of the brands.
With Mirza's performance picking up and the Olympics just around the corner, it's time brands wake up. We've been talking about India being a multi-sports country, but if brands can't recognise top talent like Mirza at a top tournament like Wimbledon, we believe it's more lip service than action.
Brands are not the only ones to blame here. Star Sports, the broadcaster of Wimbledon in India, also only picked up action from her second-round game in the Women's Doubles halfway through the first set.
If we have to become the multi-sporting nation we aspire to be, it's time brands put the money where their mouth is and support these athletes.
(The author is managing editor, Campaign India,)