If there are two things Nick Kyrgios loves in life, it’s basketball and sneakers – so it’s no surprise the fashion news that sponsor Nike has designed the Aussie a tennis shoe based on Boston Celtics star Kyrie Irving’s personal line.
The news they will continue to do so for the rest of 2019 went down pretty well with the 23-year-old.
“Yeah, it’s arguably the biggest moment of my career,” said Kyrgios when introducing the Nike Vapor X Kyrie V, which he will debut at the Australian Open. “I’m going to go out in front of my home crowd wearing the tennis shoes that share the name with my favourite basketball player.
“Representing Kyrie and myself at the same time, in front of such a big stage, is pretty crazy.”
It’s the latest collaborative project to hit the Grand Slam scene in recent years as tennis fashion looks beyond the confines of the court. Which got us thinking: which is the best couture crossover to grace the baseline?
Here are a few of the standout contenders…
Kyrgios isn’t the first tennis star in the Nike stable to collaborate with basketball royalty – and as sporting icons go, they don’t come much bigger than Roger Federer and Michael Jordan.
The duo’s star power (and commercial clout) came together at the 2014 US Open, where Federer sported the specially-designed Nike Zoom Vapor AJ3. The kicks were inspired by an early iteration of Jordan’s own dynastic range of sneakers – typically worn by Kyrgios pre- and post-match – and Jordan was at Arthur Ashe Stadium to witness their debut as the Swiss beat Marinko Matosevic, throwing in a trick shot for good measure.
The FIFA World Cup was set to bear witness to the first sleeveless shirts in 2002, worn by the Indominable Lions of Cameroon en route to the finals in Japan and South Korea.
But the soccer governing body banned the outfit two months before the start of the tournament, and that seemed to be an end to it – until Serena Williams turned up at Roland Garros in an outfit inspired by the jerseys.
Sporting a green sleeveless dress with red shorties and knee-high yellow socks, there was no denying the inspiration behind her kit, supplied by Cameroon’s sponsor, Puma. “They’re the best team in Africa,” said Williams, who recalled meeting some of the players at the Sydney Olympics in 2000.
The inspiration for the outfit was their inspirational spirit, she added; they were “always fighting and being everybody’s second team.”
Speaking of knee-length socks, no tennis-fashion crossover list would be complete without Pharrell Williams’ colourful, vintage-inspired range for the Adidas players at the 2017 US Open.
Williams, the king of collaboration, looked to the 1970s and 1980s for his inspiration, bringing together the pinstripes and traditional whites of the 1970s with a primary-colours palette.
Former world No.1s Garbine Muguruza and Angelique Kerber were among the leading lights to wear the gear in New York, but it was Alexander Zverev who truly turned heads, his Bjorn-Borg-esque headband, pinstripe shirt and, yes, knee-length shorts as he struggled past Darian King in the first round on Ashe.
Nevertheless, the range was a hit, making Vogue’s list of best fashion collaborations in 2017.
Feted British designer Stella McCartney had already established a high-end tennis line with Adidas before Caroline Wozniacki was brought in to wear her creations, but the Dane’s arrival coincided with some of the line’s finest offerings and her own surge to the top of the women’s game.
Just months after donning the AbSMcC label in 2009, Wozniacki surged to her first Grand Slam final at the US Open in an earth-tone flowy dress that she stuck with for the rest of the season.
The next year she returned to New York in what she has said was her favourite ever outfit – a navy mini-dress with contrasting yellow accents and undergarments, which struggled to stay under for long.
It must have been a case of look good, feel good, play good, as Wozniacki rose to world No.1 for the first time soon after.
Simona Halep turned up at last year’s Australian Open with the world No.1 ranking, no sponsorship deal, and a little red dress that had everybody talking.
After a brief dispute the Romanian’s contract with Adidas came to an abrupt end at the conclusion of the 2017 season, and having not secured a replacement in time for Melbourne, rather than wear something at the back of the closet or wear another brand’s gear pro-bono, Halep instead opted for something a little different.
The dress was the equivalent of Cinderella: everybody admired it, but nobody knew anything about it. The sleek outfit had no discernible point of origin – there were no hidden labels, no telltale signs of previous designs.
And with good reason: it was a tailor-made number, designed by Halep herself.
— AFP Sport (@AFP_Sport) January 13, 2018
The red dress she wore during the tournament was something she decided on in a hurry, before sending the designs to a seamstress in China. “I sent a picture [to] China actually, one of my managers helped me,” Halep said at the start of the tournament.
“In 24 hours I had the outfit, and [it was] word-perfect. I chose the model, but it’s plain. Come on, there’s nothing special there. But it looks good, I like it.”
Things only got better for Halep from there. She reached the final, losing out in a classic to Wozniacki, but went on to claim her first major at Roland Garros months later, wearing the fashion designs of her new brand, Nike. Funny how things work out, hey?
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