This weekend it notched up more victims. Yes, one by one, the quartet of global sports stars who have eschewed facial hair to vaunt the merits of a close shave have, pardon the pun, been cut down by ... the curse of Gillette.
First Thierry Henry, one of Gillette's current trio of top-notch ambassadors (along with Tiger Woods and Roger Federer), goes and does that handball.
Then Woods, the golden boy of golf and all-round sporting god, makes headline news after crashing his car following an argument with his wife. Not only that, but Woods's crash was quickly followed by a shock defeat for Federer, the world's best tennis player, who was knocked out of the ATP World Tour semi-final by sixth-seeded Russian Nikolay Davydenko. On the scale of sporting defeats, it's hardly Armageddon, but any Federer defeat is noteworthy.
Federer's loss and Woods's woes capped a series of Gillette casualties: David Beckham was dropped by the multinational razor company two years ago, but he hasn't managed to shake off the legacy of its curse. As if being booed on the pitch this summer by Los Angeles Galaxy fans wasn't bad enough, the footballer was outed last week as a secret asthma sufferer when he pulled out an inhaler on the bench. Critics mumbled that asthma wasn't something a sporting superstar should have tried to hide.
Meanwhile, Woods managed to land himself in hospital on Friday after totalling his car. Not far behind was his wife, Elin Nordegren, complete with handy golf club. According to the gossip website TMZ, the pair had rowed, before he took off, about reports that Woods was seeing another woman. Within seconds, he had crashed his SUV first into a fire hydrant and then into a tree, while pulling out of the driveway of their house in Windermere, near Orlando, Florida.
The accident left Woods semi-conscious with lacerations to his lips. His wife told officers she had smashed one of the car's rear windows with the club. Woods may have escaped major injury – he was discharged yesterday – but he has some explaining to do. Police called to interview him on Friday night, and were told to come back yesterday. While they were on their way last night, they were told the couple were unavailable and to come back tomorrow. One officer said: "There's a lot of rumours and scenarios that are being thrown out there about all kinds of different things that may have happened, but right now the only evidence that we have is that this is just a traffic crash." Friday's accident is the latest upset for Woods since he signed up for the £20m campaign with Gillette last year beside the French striker and Swiss tennis player. Barely three months after becoming the face of Gillette, Woods endured a double whammy. First knee surgery laid him up for much of last year, and then, earlier this month, he disgraced himself in Melbourne at the Australian Masters. He might have won the title, but lost his cool after a poor tee shot, then he slammed his club down into the turf only for it to bounce up into the gallery.
Henry has hardly fared better. Even before costing the Irish their place in next year's World Cup Finals in South Africa with his "hand Gaul" shocker, the Barcelona star had found himself touched by the curse: his form has suffered since moving to Spain, while France has been pretty lame since being knocked out of Euro 2008 in the first round.
As for Federer, he might have aced it on both the tennis and family scene in 2009 before yesterday's shock result, becoming a father of twins and the world's greatest tennis player. But perhaps he'd like to think again about that Gillette deal after the Davydenko defeat. As one blogger writes: "Maybe it's a problem of hubris. Endorsing a product by yourself [Federer endorses Rolex] is one thing. But promoting yourself as a member of some exclusive fraternity of awesomeness... well, that's another.
Gillette declined when asked to comment last night.
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