When you mention jellyfish, llamas and snakes in the same sentence, you’d expect the discussion to be about a zoo. But Ariel Behar brings animals, the elements and even mythical creatures onto the tennis court.
No, not literally. But the Uruguayan doubles player wears unforgettable outfits.
“I was the most grey guy wearing clothes. I was only wearing white, black and grey,” Behar told ATPTour.com. “I never wore anything weird at all. I was super simple, [but] my wife got me into it.”
Behar’s wife, Sabrina Sielecki, is the founder and owner of Lalá Sportswear. She used to work with leather, making various jackets and fun designs. But about four years ago, she shifted into sportswear and began designing clothing for Behar, who at the time was her boyfriend.
“It started out as a side job, [even a] joke, but it became a reality,” Sielecki said. “It became my job.”
Behar wore a shirt with Uruguayan jellyfish at the 2020 ATP Cup.
Behar does not blend in with his shirts to say the least. For fans who follow the 31-year-old, there’s almost a sense of anticipation ahead of his matches, and not only to see him play. The world’s 67th-ranked doubles player changes the design he wears every match.
“I have so many that I almost forget which ones I have and I don’t travel with all of them. If I did, I’d have to carry so many of them in my bag,” Behar said. “I love the tie dye one, which has many colours. I love the unicorn, I love the Superman Lego, I love the jellyfish. I have pineapples, too, but all those are my favourite ones. I have snakeskin, lightning, llamas, so many [shirts].”
Sielecki designs all the shirts. Behar admitted that it is “99 per cent her decision what I wear”. The righty added that he doesn’t expect to design anything himself: “I’m terrible at that. I don’t have the creativity, the patience and I’m terrible at drawing and designing. I leave that part to her and I do the playing.”
“Sometimes if I think it’s too risky I’ll ask him because I don’t want to push it beyond the limit of looking good,” Sielecki said. “But most of the time I send them to be made and when they come in I take them to a tournament and I just show him on the spot.”
The Uruguayan also wore a shirt with hearts and the sun from the Uruguayan flag at the inaugural ATP Cup.
Behar, who lifted five ATP Challenger Tour trophies last year, is into his third ATP Tour semi-final. The Uruguayan and partner Gonzalo Escobar are chasing their first tour-level title this week in Florida.
“Our goal is of course to get to the Top 30 and to play all the top ATP Tour tournaments: the ATP Masters 1000s, ATP 500s, all the Grand Slams,” Behar said.
It’s safe to say the Uruguayan is more than just his outfits. But Behar doesn’t mind the attention he has received because of them.
“I think if you’re winning, the shirt is going to be in the news. If I’m losing, nobody is going to focus on the shirts,” Behar said. “The better I do, the more people are going to focus on the stuff I’m wearing. The better I do at each tournament, that’s good for me and for my wife. That’s great.”