We kept hearing sales folk tell us that tennis was coming back in a major way but we assumed it was just nonsense. Then the Tech Challenge and Stan Smith hype started and we realised that they may have been onto something. adidas have Stan and Nike had the Wimbledon, which we believe was worn by Ilie Nastase during his brief tenure as Nike’s first sponsored professional athlete.
It was originally released at the start of Nike’s existence as a very crude tennis design, followed by the revamp of the Wimbledon in 1973, with a perforated swoosh and vulcanized sole. In the late 1970s we believe it got its cup sole and found its man when John McEnroe signed his 1978 Nike deal and was key to the Wimbledon’s ads This shoe, alongside runners like the Internationalist, is one of a handful of Nike silhouettes that ever got any terrace love, but that realm remains adidas’ for the most part, but for a generation of proto b-boys on these shores, the Wimbledon is their first “proper” shoe. Somewhere down the line, Nike lost the rights to call the shoe Wimbledon and it became the Tennis Classic, sold in high street spots across the nation and, like the Stan Smith, losing some prestige. Still, there were some gems in those chainstores including a subdued Safari pattern heel edition we clocked during a trip to JD a few years back, but it seemed to be 2008’s fragment design project that jumpstarted this shoe with a trend audience. We and many others have always respected the Wimbledon’s role on these shores, even with the annoying name change and this colourway, as worn by John in his belligerent heyday, is in the CT store right now. It’s strange to think that that was the start of a rebel tennis franchise that would hit such wild heights with Agassi’s signature pieces by the end of that decade.