Tennis sneakers you ask?
Yep, that’s right. Just like basketball, tennis has seen some iconic sneakers grace the courts throughout the years. We now live in an era where we have been able to embrace sporting classics and turn some of them into everyday staples. Whether it be about style or innovation, here are some of our top picks.
Diadora x Boris Becker Signature (1989)
The likes of Bjorn Borg and Guillermo Vilas helped make Diadora a household name but the Italian brand really reached new levels when the German international, Boris Becker, came on board. Featuring a simplistic design, the uppers were constructed of a soft kangaroo leather which provided ultimate comfort whilst staying durable for the sometimes harsh tennis conditions. In 1989, Becker defeated Ivan Lendl whilst wearing a pair of Diadora Becker Signature’s to win his first and only US Open title.
adidas Stefan Edberg (1986)
Before Stefan Edberg wore his own signature shoe you would find him wearing a pair of adidas Lendls. We can only assume and guess that Edberg wanted something similar to the Lendls as he enjoyed wearing adidas so much he didn’t switch for another brand during his illustrious career which saw him win a total of six Grand Slam titles including back-to-back titles at the US Open in 1991.
adidas Lendl Supreme (1984)
Quite possibly one of the finest players to grace the tennis courts, Ivan Lendl has racked up an impressive 94 singles titles, coming only second to Jimmy Connors’ 109 titles. Lendl had two signature models with adidas in the form of the Lendl Supreme and Competition. The Supreme took on a full leather upper, utilised molded pieces and even gave it a distinctive look with the red detailing on the toebox.
Nike Air Tech Challenge II (1990)
If there was ever a man to bring a bit of colour and flare to the tennis courts, it would arguably have to be Andre Agassi. Flourishing hair, denim shorts and plenty of pink is not something ideally associated with tennis but when you are Agassi, you are able to get away with this sort of thing. The Air Tech Challenge model featured a full length air unit which was visible in the heel as well as hits of ‘Hot Lava’ colouring to give the shoe an iconic look. Fast forward to 2012 and Kanye West would see his Yeezy 2 signature model utilise the midsole from the Air Tech Challenge as well.
Nike Air Trainer Hi (1987)
The Nike Air Trainer Hi is an icon in its own right purely as at the time, no one had ever seen something quite like it and the impact it had on future Nike releases was unprecedented. Much of the focus comes down on that forefoot strap which provided a lock-down fit and improved stability. The likes of Mats Wilander, Andre Agassi, Vitas Gerulaitis and John McEnroe all wore the shoe on court but believe it or not, it was originally intended to be for gym purposes.
Back in 1986, McEnroe was given an early prototype of the shoe but was told not to wear them for a tournament. He decided to completely ignore those instructions and instead found himself falling in love with the shoe forcing Nike to pay close attention to future tennis models. They even made different variations of the Air Trainer to make them better suited for grass and clay courts.
Nike Air Oscillate (1996)
Tinker Hatfield was able to design the Air Oscillate without Pete Sampras even wearing the shoe and instead decided upon taking input from other tennis athletes who wear tested the shoe. Designing the overall product was one thing but getting Sampras to step foot in them was another so Tinker hatched a plan to ‘trick’ him into wearing the shoes by proposing a game of pick up basketball. In short, it worked. Pete would wear the Oscillate throughout his career until his retirement in 2002 which saw him win the US Open in his last game. Another point worth noting is that Pete wore a US size 10.25. That’s right. A quarter size. How’s that for exclusive?
NikeCourt Zoom Vapor AJ3 (2014)
Roger Federer and Michael Jordan will always remain as two of the worlds most iconic athletes not just in their respective games, but also in the world of sport. It’s no wonder that Nike felt it was right to bring together elements of the Air Jordan line and create a tennis purpose shoe. By taking the Nike Zoom Vapor 9.5 and the Air Jordan 3, Nike were able to create the Zoom Vapor AJ3. The shoe took on a lower profile look which utilised Dynamic Fit technology as well as housing a Nike Zoom unit. The shoe was rounded off in the white/cement Jordan 3 colour way with a Jumpman-embroidered tongue, signature RF graphics, classic elephant-print panels and of course the instantly recognisable Nike Air branding on the heel. As well as the white colour way a black cement edition also released later that year.
Reebok Tennis Pump (1990)
Reebok needed something to rival Nike and their signature Visible Air which had dominated the sneaker market during the late 1980s. They finally got their breakthrough with ‘The Pump’. This was added on the tongue of the Reebok shoes where you would be able to ‘Pump’ the shoe enabling for a more custom fit. The idea worked for Reebok and they were certainly able to rival Nike during the early 90s where Andre Agassi was heavily endorsing the Swoosh’s products.
adidas Rod Laver (1970)
Rod Laver will always go down as a tennis legend and his signature shoe with adidas will also go down in sneaker history as an iconic silhouette. The mesh on the uppers allowed for more breathability which was partnered with a piece of suede at the front of the shoe. Laver would wear the shoe throughout his career and to this date still remains the only male to have won two career Grand Slams in 1962 and 1969.
adidas Stan Smith (1971)
Quite possibly the most iconic tennis shoe ever made, the Stan Smith has gone from an on the court classic to a lifestyle essential for some people. They say the simple things in life are better and it’s the same story here. A white leather upper partnered with a white rubber outsole. It just doesn’t get any better than that. Instead of using the brands signature stripes down the side of the shoe, perforations are made for better breathability. Since the shoes inception, the Stan Smith has stayed true to its roots whilst also seeing special editions released in collaborations with the likes of Pharrell Williams and Raf Simons.