I have always believed that tennis court shoes have the potential to be as hyped as their basketball counterparts. Tennis, along with basketball, are the only two sports where fashion freedom is allowed in the shoe game. So, why aren’t tennis performance shoes more fashionable?  Why doesn’t Federer have an evolving tennis court shoe line like Lebron? Why don’t professionals such as Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray, and Nick Kyrgios make their own shoe/shoe lines? The market for tennis performance shoes is perhaps the most untouched fashion market all of sports. Should there be designated terms within players’ endorsement contracts and a greater effort from their agents to obtain collaborations with top designers/brands for their shoes?

Throughout tennis history, a few iconic shoes have stood out. These shoes have all added a sense of style to the game but were each unique in their own way. Check out the top 5 most iconic of all-time below, starting with #5.

#5 - Reebok Court Victory Pump

Michael Chang wore these shoes in the early ’90s. Reebok officially arrived on the tennis performance shoe scene with the release of this shoe. Although I have never owned a pair of these shoes, aesthetically they are one of my all-time favorites. I specifically enjoyed the whole “pump concept.” The Court Victory Pumps were re-released in 2014.

#4 - Nike Court Flare

I love this sneaker because it was inspired by Kobe Bryant’s Elite footwear. Serena Williams brought this shoe to life in 2015. Rarely seen on the tennis court, this sneaker has a built-in ankle cuff. When I first saw Serena wearing the “Vivid Sulfur” pair while she was playing the 2016 Australian Open, I knew I needed to get a pair. I still practice in them to this day; the extra ankle support is great. Last year, Nike and the Jordan Brand created a special edition of this sneaker collection to honor Serena’s accomplishment of making history by winning her 23rd Grand Slam title. This special edition featured the same colorways as the “Banned” Air Jordan 1s with hot pink to match Serena’s US Open outfit.

#3 - Nike Air Tech Challenge 2

Andre put these iconic sneakers on the map when he sported them in the early ’90s. In 2014, Kanye West revived the soul/sole of the Teck Challenge 2 when he used the sole of that shoe for his own signature shoe, the Nike Air Yeezy 2. It is rare to see a pair of high-tops on the tennis court, let alone a pair of shoes with colorways like “Hot Lava” and “Volt Emerald”. I am slightly obsessed with the re-release of this shoe in 2014 which included the ‘Wimbledon Turbo Green” and “Photo Blue” colorways.

#2 - Off-White x Nike Blazer Mid

In potentially one of the greatest collaborations in professional tennis attire ever, this performance tennis shoe was designed by mogul designer Virgil Abloh and features a light-gray mesh with silver sparkles on the heel panel and midsole. There is big text on the inside of the shoe and stitched-on tabs. The branded zip tie is also included. This shoe is one of the most iconic tennis performance shoes of all time because it is more than just a glamorous shoe; it demonstrates the potential for collaborations and fashion freedom in professional tennis attire. In February, I published an article titled “My Tennis Fashion Thoughts” where I discussed the opportunity that popular designers have within the professional tennis industry and how such collaborations would present a means in which players could further express their personalities. The Off-White and Nike collaboration is much more iconic than it might seem on the surface. This could potentially lead to more ideas and collaborations in the future within professional tennis and for other popular designers. Such collaborations would, in turn, bring more attention and popularity to the game and make it more mainstream and relatable.

#1 - NikeCourt Zoom Vapor RF x AJ3 by Jordan

In 2014, Federer teamed up with one of his idols, Michael Jordan, to create his limited-edition shoe for the US Open. This was a collaboration between two of the greatest, most dominant athletes in sports history. This sneaker combined details from both the court shoe Nike Zoom Vapor 9.5 Tour and the Air Jordan III. It is made with premium leather, has elephant-print on the sides, and has both RF and Jumpman signature graphics. In 2017, Federer sported the Nike Court Zoom Vapor RF x AJ3 “Fire Red,” the product of another collaboration with Jordan. This is the ultimate combination of a tennis and basketball shoe, and the sleekest, most fashionable performance shoe in tennis history.

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Rachel Stuhlmann

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