Tennis Identity

Tennis Flashback: Ellesse

Ellesse logoFirst off: It's pronounced "L.S." More on that in a bit. And the logo – it's been around for ages. Know what it stands for? If you said "tennis ball," you'd be half right.The sides of the tennis ball are meant to signify the tips of skis.

Ellesse rose to real tennis prominence in the late 1970s/early 1980s when they signed Guillermo Vilas, who had his own line with Fila for several years as we know. They followed that up by signing Chris Evert, and gave her her own gold-trimmed line…along with other signees like Boris Becker, Hana Mandlikova, and Pat Cash.

The Ellesse line was founded in 1959 by Leonardo Servadio, and the brand name is derived from his initials, "L.S." Ellesse ruled the tennis landscape along with Fila and Sergio Tacchini in the 1980s, pre-Nike. There were other smaller Italian lines like L'Alpina Australian (Lendl wore Australian prior to moving to Adidas,) LaFont, Kim Top Line, and Maggia. (Trivia: note the VG logo on the Gerulaitis shirt, which looks very similar to the GV logo that Vilas slapped onto his Fila line for awhile.

The shoe companies (besides Adidas and Puma) began to flex their muscles, with Nike, Adidas, and Reebok signing the majority of the top players – and the once powerful Italian lines faded from the commercial limelight.

Ellesse experienced something of a resurgence when it was announced that Evert was rejoining the brand, but there seems to be little evidence to support that relationship today. When seen on-court, Chrissie is seen with Nike

More recently, Ellesse announced it had signed two current pros, Elina Svitolina and Tommy Haas. The line is not currently available in the US.  - Brinke Guthrie