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Words by Mr Dan Davies

Perhaps it was Ms Donna Karan who best captured the thriving relationship that currently exists between sportsmen and fashion, when she explained to Vanity Fair magazine, "They're in the best shape that you can possibly be. They have style, they have grace, they have great energy." The result is that fashion houses are now vying to dress leading athletes, many of whom are following the lead of sport's biggest style icon, Mr David Beckham, by dressing in a way that makes people sit up and take notice - rather than just wince. Here we present a list of Mr Porter's 12 best-dressed sportsmen.

THE RUNNERS-UP

Those who just missed out on a place in our top 12...


The former world tennis number one has capitalised on his connections to perfect a signature style that's all about tailored jackets, button-down shirts and preppy sweaters. Named as one of Forbes magazine's best-dressed athletes in 2010, Mr Federer also has Vogue editor Ms Anna Wintour as a style adviser, which is a big advantage both on and off the court.

Once mocked for his outsized suiting, the most famous basketball player on the planet is now a paragon of impeccable preppy style, matching tight-fitting waistcoats with plaid and dark jeans, and chunky plastic-framed glasses with tie clips and bow ties. A regular on the front row at fashion shows, Mr James is a fan of Ralph Lauren Purple Label, and is one of only three men to have appeared on the cover of Vogue.

The record-breaking Olympic swimmer has designed lines of jewellery and underwear, and has become a regular at fashion shows. Although the Australian is occasionally pilloried at home for his fashion faux pas (including one all-leather ensemble with boots), he demonstrates a refreshing attitude to style: "I wear what I want to wear and I don't care what people think."

The Indian captain is a hero to billions after leading his country to victory in the recent Cricket World Cup. His blend of calm assurance and flamboyance with the bat is reflected in how he presents himself away from the oval. Mr Dhoni's changing hairstyles and fashion-forward dressing - a mixture of sharp formal suits and casualwear from a host of designer labels - have helped to update cricket's image on the subcontinent.

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