Yonex is a Japanese sports equipment manufacturing company.
Yonex produces equipment and apparel for tennis, badminton, golf, and running. The company was founded in 1946 by Minoru Yoneyama as a producer of wooden floats for fishing nets.
The company was later forced out of this market because of the invention of plastic floats. This led to a commitment by Yoneyama to never again be left behind by technological advancements.
In 1957, Yoneyama began to make badminton racquets for other brands. By 1961, the first Yoneyama-branded racquet was introduced, and within another two years an export company was created for the worldwide distribution. After the company began to make aluminium badminton racquets in 1969, it found that the same technology could be applied to the tennis racket which the company introduced in 1971. The company began to experiment with graphite shafts for both types of rackets and found that these would also be useful for golf clubs.
In 1982 Yonex came out with the new oversized tennis racquet in the REX-series with the R-7 and R-10 rackets. At that time Martina Navratilova played with the R-7 and was very successful. One year later, the new series Rexking was developed with the R-22. Navratilova subsequently used the white RQ 180 widebody frame until the early 1990s.
Yonex advertising banners at the 2013 badminton French Open
Finding a growing market, the Yonex Corporation (a wholly owned subsidiary) was established in Torrance, California, US in July 1983. In 1992 Yonex introduced the widebody badminton racket, the "Isometric 500", a racket that was much less "tear drop"-shaped than previous ones. The more "square" head gave it a much larger striking surface, which provides a larger "sweet "spot" to hit the shuttle. It led other manufacturers to follow suit in "square-head" or isometric designs.
The parent company was listed on the Tokyo Stock Exchange in 1994. Yonex describes itself as the world leader in golf, tennis and badminton equipment. Yonex provides clothing for national badminton associations around the world, such as the Malaysian Badminton Association, Badminton Scotland, Badminton England, Badminton Ireland, and Badminton Wales. Yonex has also been teaming up with OCBC (Orange County Badminton Club) since 2007 to host the annual U.S. Open Grand Prix Badminton Championships.
Yonex has become the dominant corporate player in badminton. Yonex sponsors the All England Open Badminton Championships and is a partner of the Badminton World Federation which organizes the World Championships. Upwards of 80% of competitive players use their racquets, as it is the preferred choice amongst professionals. Yonex is significant in the tennis and golf industries as well and is a major sponsor of professional athletes in all three sports.