Serena Williams in the Nike Court Flare designed for her.
Paul George has a signature shoe. Paul George… I initially thought this was a good move by Nike, and I still think it’s okay, but I was reminded by someone on Twitter that there were only three women with signature shoes. I only knew of Sheryl Swoopes. I never even realized that Nikki McCray had a signature release from Fila (the Nikki Delta Basketball) and The Lobo by Reebok for Rebecca Lobo, I remembered once I was reminded, but it has literally been lost in time.
Real Quick, I took a moment to Google and found a very comprehensive article on Complex and by definition of Signature (meaning the shoe was named after the player, not just worn by the player) there are more than three.
*Nike Air C14
Athlete: Cynthia Cooper
*Nike Air Zoom S5
Athlete: Dawn Staley
*Nike BBMique Shox
Athlete: Chamique Holdsclaw
*adidas TS Ace Commander
Athlete: Candace Parker
Athlete: Candace Parker
Pictures for each of these shoes can be found on the link above for Complex. They’ve earned the right to keep that click through for the comprehensive work done on this. I’m actually embarrassed that I didn’t know about Nikki (she’s from Memphis) and Holdsclaw (Tennessee), but I have to backtrack on something I recently wrote…
I have to apologize to adidas, because I snapped on the brand for not having a signature release for Candace Parker. I was wrong. I knew about the releases from adidas, but I thought the shoes were the TS Commanders worn by Kevin Garnett and Tim Duncan. I didn’t realize that the name of her shoe was actually the ACE. The shoe is the same model as the Commander with ACE added to the title, but adidas still did a really poor job of promoting Candace and they are continuing to do a poor job considering she doesn’t have a Boost based training or hoops shoe although she is the only significant adidas basketball player who has won a championship at the pro hoops level in the last few years.
Now that I got that out of the way, it is obvious that the Signature shoes are primarily a basketball related concept in today’s culture. When you consider that Stan Smith remains one of the best selling shoes of all time for adidas, tennis players have always been at the forefront of the signature shoe movement. To be honest at one point in the history of Nike Andre Agassi was more high profile than Michael Jordan and his commercials and signature shoe were everywhere even in Canon Rebel commercials.
When you take a moment to compare careers, Pete Sampras, Andre Agassi and with Roger Federer, none of those tennis players have accomplishments that match Serena Williams.
Serena Williams has won 38 major titles overall, from 1998 to 2016. This includes 22 singles titles, 14 doubles titles, and 2 mixed doubles titles.
Yet Williams remains without a Signature shoe. She did have the Nike Court Flare which was designed for her in 2014, but that isn’t really a Kobe 1 is it? More interesting is that the name of the shoe was based on a previous tennis shoe made by Nike for Andre Agassi.
Why is it that Serena hasn’t garnered a signature release that has her name? I think the quick response is people wouldn’t buy a signature shoe by a tennis player. Other thoughts are women don’t buy sneakers because of athletes. I can continue listing reasons for why brands continue leaning on the fact that outside of Sheryl Swoopes women haven’t been capable of producing the same results as a Kobe, KD, or MJ. The problem with all of these comments is that they all deny one fact, even when there has been a women’s shoe, the marketing has been very minimal. The promo isn’t placed behind the product and it doesn’t matter who is wearing a shoe, if there isn’t any marketing the shoe dies. Ask Chris Webber and Latrell Sprewell about Dada, or Brandon Jennings about his Under Armour shoe.
In today’s market Lululemon has forced sportswear to reconsider women athletes and women’s sportswear. It’s taken years for the market to begin to see women’s athletic wear as a viable business. For years the market has been trying to figure out what would make women buy and it took a yoga pants company to kick the business into high gear. Now that an upstart has changed the game, it’s time for Nike to change the game. If a dude with zero rings in college and the pros can earn a signature shoe, the greatest athlete in the history of sports should have a signature shoe.
Nike, let’s take the Court Flare and change the name to the Air Zoom Serena 1 this is the time. Do it before she decides to leave the game.