Jean-Julien Rojer had a few external motivators during this US Open fortnight. He was playing for his country, the Netherlands, his teammate, Horia Tecau of Romania, and for peace.
Rojer, who won the men's doubles title on Saturday with Tecau, wore shirts adorned with the Statue of Liberty and shorts emblazoned with the peace sign throughout the fortnight. The clothes were designed by a friend of his who owns a clothing company. The 36-year-old Rojer said he wore the outfit to promote peace.
He came up with the idea after the white nationalist rally in Charlottesville, Va., last month. A 32-year-old Charlottesville woman was killed when a car was driven into a group of counterprotesters. Two state troopers, who were in a helicopter observing the rally, also died when the helicopter crashed. More than 30 people were injured, as well.
"We wanted to come up with a line to pretty much promote peace and have liberty and freedom here in this beautiful country," Rojer said.
Originally from the Netherlands, Rojer moved to the U.S. when he was 12 for tennis. He played collegiately at UCLA. Tecau came to the U.S. when he was 14.
"I just wanted to have the conversation going and promoting again, just freedom and justice, liberty for everybody on gender issues, on racial issues, which we deal a lot with in this country," Rojer said. "You can never say too much stuff for equality for everybody in this country. I think that message needs to be passed on constantly."
Both Rojer and Tecau said it's important for tennis players and athletes to speak out on issues that matter to them.
"We are viewed as role models for a lot of the people. I have a lot of followers in Romania, and Jules has a lot of followers in Curacao and Holland. They are following you, and it's nice to send this message and spread it," Tecau said. "As role models for the generations that are behind us, the young generation, it's important to see that, as well. We're not just athletes competing for Slams and prize money and glory."
Rojer said even if his attire changed only five people's minds, it would be a move in the right direction.
"It's important that everybody do their job or do their part, and that's how you make either change or progress," he said. "We all have a platform, and we have to be conscious of our actions and respectful of each other."
The clothing line also features a jacket with an African-American, a Caucasian and an African-American locking hands to represent a civil rights march that took place in Winston-Salem, N.C., in the 1960s.
Rojer and Tecau won the Winston-Salem Open title before coming to New York, where they claimed their second Grand Slam doubles title. They also won the 2015 Wimbledon crown.