ADRIANO, PAOLO AND THOSE TWO RED POLO SHIRTS
After forty-five years, the victory of the Italian Team at the 1976 Davis Cup is still a legend, celebrated by TV series and specials. We tell it as well, because FILA was there too.
In the FILA SPORT tradition, colour is a pivotal concept, worn by athletes in order to customize their feats. As an emblematic witness of it, since the very beginning, we can talk about red, that after appearing in the F-BOX logo and on the stripes of the Borg polo shirt, marks the history of tennis in 1976 thanks to a legendary triumph.
2021 marks the 45th anniversary of the Italian Team’s victory at the Davis Cup, which is still the only one since 1900. A unique event, in which sporty practice encounters history, style evolution, even political debate. All these elements have been protagonist, last November, in Turin: the Savoyard city, after hosting the Nitto ATP Finals and the Davis Cup itself, welcomed the premiere of Una squadra, the Sky TV series written by Domenico Procacci that will be screened in May 2022 in order to enchant the audience with the backstage of a nearly magical moment, along with Davis 76. L’altro cammino di Santiago by Federico Buffa.
In the mid-Seventies the team was led by Nicola Pietrangeli and featured Corrado Barazzutti, Tonino Zugarelli, along with two athletes sponsored by FILA, at those times involved in changing the face of tennis. Of course, they were Paolo Bertolucci and Adriano Panatta, two guys next door that conquered the magazine covers also thanks to their ability in renewing the appeal of a discipline that was started not to be perceived as ‘posh’ and exclusive anymore. In 1976 the team gained the final match againts Chile, but the eventuality of playing in Augusto Pinochet’s Country raised an unprecedented debate, a choir involving many different voices. The chosen location for the match, Santiago del Chile’s Estadio Nacional, was particularly upsetting: it was the place in which tortures were inflicted to dissidents. The team decided to land in the Chilean city after a long negotiation with the Italian Tennis Federation, but nobody could be able to predict what would happen until the end.
Commonly known as ‘Ascenzietto’, Adriano Panatta was a leading player of his times: returning from his victories at the Roland Garros and the Internazionale di Roma, he was one of the most praised ones. Anyhow, his wild soul didn’t leave him alone, so the day before the notorious match he convinced his timorous friend Paolo Bertolucci to embark on a mission that would let them speak loud, making history as well.
The idea was to go on court wearing two red FILA polo shirts, as a clear, unmistakable sign of support for the Chilean people. They weren’t the only shirts they wore during the match: after being asked to change them, they decided to wear two other different ones. Such change didn’t compromise the final result: after four matches the Bertolucci-Panatta couple defeated Chile scoring 3-6, 6-2, 6-3 and 9-7.
Despite its legendary afflatus, perhaps in 1976 their victory wasn’t celebrated in the proper way. After forty-five years, anyway, maybe the time has come. Even for FILA: among a lot of different shades of red, due specific polo shirts will remind us of a glorious moment of sport and freedom.
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