Louis Vuitton
Louis Vuitton’s new Core Values campaign, starring Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal. Photography: Annie Leibovitz

FOR MUCH OF THE last decade or so, mainstream tennis discussion has boiled down to deadlocked arguments over which legend among the sport’s big three – that being Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic – deserves to call themselves the greatest of all time.

These arguments transcend the barriers that separate armchair critics from professional analysts, as everyone from casual fans to former pros weighs in on whether Federer’s grace and elegance, Djokovic’s idiosyncratic tendencies, or Nadal’s uncanny ability to lie somewhere in between elevated them to the gold standard of sporting greatness.

But amid all the blustering talking heads and cognitively dissonant fandom of this age, it’s frequently forgotten that tennis’ most revered champions were never actually enemies. Instead, the big three have always harboured a deep admiration for one another, built on mutual respect and a reciprocal hunger for competition. Still, it’s rare that we ever see Federer, Rafa and Djokovic join forces anywhere but the tennis court. But if there was any force capable of bringing them together, that force would be Louis Vuitton.

Today, Louis Vuitton unveils the new iteration of its fabled Core Values campaign, featuring two-thirds of the big three – Federer and Nadal. The new campaign sees the pair ascending the heights of Italy’s Dolomites mountain range through the lens of iconic photographer Annie Leibovitz, with each donning a Louis Vuitton backpack – Federer with the classic Monogram Christopher and Nadal with the Monogram Eclipse.

In this setting, and with a stratospheric 42 grand slams between them, Federer and Nadal embody the campaign’s tagline: “There are journeys that turn into legends”. The illustrious duo are captured mid-mountaineering expedition, reminding us of their parallel sporting journeys, through which both men became legends.

Louis Vuitton
Behind the scenes of Louis Vuitton’s new Core Values campaign, in the Dolomites. Photography: courtesy of Louis Vuitton.

For those perplexed as to what Federer, Nadal, Louis Vuitton and an alpine vista have in common, allow us to explain. 17 years ago, Louis Vuitton launched its first campaign in the Core Values series to demonstrate the values Louis Vuitton epitomises. One of those values is ‘icons’.

In the years since, these campaigns have featured several iconic figures synonymous with excellence in their respective fields, including Angelina Jolie, Sean Connery, Steffi Graf and André Agassi, Diego Maradona, Pelé and Zinedine Zidane among various dramatic backdrops and travel hotspots, which brings us to the second value – the ‘art of travel’.

The art of travel goes beyond geographical relocation; it is an emotional experience. Core Values campaigns see icons situated in renowned locations alongside Louis Vuitton travel products and accessories. Angelina Jolie was pictured in Cambodia, Sean Connery in the Bahamas, and now, Federer and Nadal in the Dolomites.

The third core value is transmission, not only representing the connection between the personalities involved and the products they carry, but also how ideas, dreams and yes, values, can be transferred between generations emotionally and physically.

You could say that Core Values campaigns echo the sentiments that resonate through every Louis Vuitton design, because the luxury fashion house lies at the intersection of these values. With a pioneering spirit and unshakeable commitment to excellence, Louis Vuitton’s values run parallel to the greatness of icons like Federer and Nadal, who rose to extraordinary metaphorical – and now, in this case, literal – heights during their careers.

With Federer retiring in 2022 and Nadal nearing the sunset of his long and successful career, the era of the big three seems to be coming to an end. But their greatness extends beyond the court, and their legacies will continue to be built upon, just like Louis Vuitton’s.

A giggle between shots. Photography: courtesy of Louis Vuitton.


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