Sloane Stephens wore a NikeCourt Zoom Zero x Air Jordan VIII Aqua hybrid at the US Open. (Getty Images)
The synergy between tennis and basketball has come to the forefront this year. Stars from both sports have attended one another’s games (Kobe Bryant watched Naomi Osaka in New York), and imitated each other's on-court celebrations (Frances Tiafoe embraced his inner Lebron James in Melbourne).
It's clear the athletes have great mutual respect and admiration for one another, and one other way they've shown off that respect is by collaborating on shoe designs. Though not all new this year, a collection of crossover shoes have made a splash in recent history.
Here are the Top 6 shoe collaborations:
LEBRON JAMES and ANDRE AGASSI
Tech Challenge Nike Lebron 16
Andre Agassi was one of the first ATP players to take on-court fashion risks. In 1990, his rebellious ensembles drew a lot of attention. One of his most memorable looks was his 1990 French Open neon-pink outfit with jean shorts, pink headband and matching Nike "Hot Lava" Air Tech Challenge II shoes.
Agassi reached the French Open final in 1999, in hot pink. (Getty Images)
James used Agassi’s as inspiration for his new shoe, the Tech Challenge Nike Lebron 16, which was released in May of this year.
The basketball shoes display the same color way and splattered detail as Agassi's signature 1990 shoe, along with a black version.
KYRIE IRVING and NICK KYRGIOS
Vapor X Kyrie 5s
Nick Kyrgios has expressed his love for the Celtics over and over again, in interviews, on social media, and with his clothing choices. Australian Kyrie Irving was on the Celtics team, adding more fuel to Kyrgios' devotion, though it will be interesting to see if Kyrgios’ allegiance shifts to Brooklyn as a result of the NBA’s offseason shuffling.
To kick off the 2019 season, Kyrgios and Irving teamed up to create a basketball shoe that's fit to be worn on the tennis court. The world No. 30 wore the shoes at the Australian Open. The coolest part of the design is the Nike Court and “Kyrie” brand logos on the tongue.
MICHAEL JORDAN and ROGER FEDERER
Nike Court Zoom Vapor RF X AJ3 by Jordan
In 2014, Roger Federer teamed up with one of his idols to create a limited edition shoe for the US Open. The collaboration between two of the greatest, most dominant athletes in history combined details from the Nike Zoom Vapor 9.5 Tour and the Air Jordan III.
Made with premium leather with elephant-print on the sides, the Nike Court Zoom Vapor RF x AJ3 has both RF and Jumpman signature graphics. In 2017, Federer sported the “Fire Red" and "Atmos" versions, continuing their historic collaboration.
MICHAEL JORDAN and Serena Williams
Nike Court Flare
Serena Williams began wearing the Nike Court Flare in 2014, winning the 2014 US Open and 2015 Australian Open in a black pair and the French Open in 2015 in pink. The sneaker has a built-in ankle cuff which is often seen on the basketball court but rarely on a tennis court. She's worn it in a lot of colors since then, even a "Vivid Sulfur" yellow at the 2016 Australian Open.
In 2017, Nike created a special edition of the sneaker to honor Serena's historic 23rd Grand Slam title win in Melbourne. This red and pink sneakers featured the same color ways as the Air Jordan 1s with extra hot pink.
DOMINIQUE WILKINS and MICHAEL CHANG
Reebok Court Victory Pump
The Victory Pump shoe was one of the earlier crossover shoe in basketball and tennis. First created as a basketball performance shoe in 1989, it was worn by former Atlanta Hawks star, Dominique Wilkins. Many other NBA players donned the Pumps before they were converted into a tennis shoe, the Court Victory Pump, for Michael Chang, who started wearing them in 1991.
Reebok officially arrived on the tennis shoe scene with the release of the Court Victory Pump, giving Nike a run for their money over the course of the '90s. Although I have never owned a pair of these shoes , aesthetically they are one of my all-time favorites. The Court Victory Pumps came back in 2014 and were re-released in the original Chang colors in 2016.
MICHAEL JORDAN and SLOANE STEPHENS
NikeCourt Zoom Zero x Air Jordan VIII Aqua
For the 2019 US Open, Nike made a special shoe for 2017 champion Sloane Stephens. She wore a hybrid of the aqua upper of the Air Jordan VIII's with the outsole of the NikeCourt Zoom Zero. The Air Jordan VIII's came out in 1993, the year Stephens was born. She gets to add her name to an exclusive list along with Serena and Federer as players who have collaborated with the Air Jordan brand.
So while it's not a totally new trend, tennis and basketball players have collaborated on quite a few shoe designs this year, mostly within Nike. It makes sense since both sports have plenty of shoe game freedom. Hopefully fans will see even more collaborations in the near future, as these crossover efforts make for some of the most popular products.
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