Bianca Andreescu gives Nike a dressing down at US Open before issuing apology
The Nike ambassador to the United States, Bianca Andreescu, hit out at the company after she refused to play a song with the US ambassador to New Zealand.
Andreescu was asked by Donald Trump to play “Bag It” by Taylor Swift, which had been performed at an anti-Brexit demonstration, and to wear a T-shirt. As she refused, in a Facebook post yesterday, Trump took a dig at the company and its president, Mark Parker, who had criticised her decision to play the song at the rally.
“What were they thinking of?” she asked on Facebook. “How can they think this makes me look like a threat to them? You think I am going to put on a white T-shirt AND walk down this street in the US just because you asked me to? What do I do, become a target for every company you have ever done business with? Or turn around and call you racist because you don’t like my music? What a joke.”
The backlash was intense. People sent her messages of support. The response was the start of a long and painful process for her, not just about this one event, but about her relationship with Nike, her career and her country.
Andreescu began as a model for the company in 2009 and was promoted to ambassador in September 2016. She is married to tennis coach Emilio Fernandez, who was also an ambassador for Nike. In the fall of 2013, Fernandez suffered a broken ankle. Andreescu, who was working at a call centre, took over as his coach. She went on to become a triple world champion, winning Roland Garros and Wimbledon, and to play at Wimbledon in 2017, beating the world No1.
Andreescu was a key ambassador for Nike in the US while Fernandez worked as a call centre employee, and there were many mutual connections between her, Fernandez and the company.
“She’s been very loyal to us and supported us in any way she could – no matter what,” says Jennifer Lee, Nike’s public relations