The Wimbledon Championships may be the oldest and most historic tennis tournament in the world, but let’s face it: grass court tennis just doesn’t have the same vibe today as it used to. There was a point in time when three of the four majors were played on grass. Today, the grass court season seems to get shorter and shorter, with more focus directed towards hard court and clay tournaments. In fact, if you break it down, the hard court season takes up nine months out of the year, clay is played for two, and grass gets just one.
So when it comes to footwear, it’s not surprising that there aren’t a whole lot of grass-specific options out there. In fact, unless it’s an outsole customized through Nike iD, you would be hard-pressed to go to your local tennis shop and see a “grass court” section. Instead, some players on tour continue to go with older, more established models, while others go for shoes designed for all-court use (meaning, technically, they can be used on grass, clay, or hard surfaces). In honor of the short grass court season, we here at Sneaker Report have put together a list of the best shoes designed for the green stuff. These are the 10 Best Grass Court Tennis Shoes Available Today.
No. 10 - Asics Gel Challenger 9
First and foremost, the Asics Gel Challenger 9 is a beast on the hard court. But it performs surprisingly well on soft surfaces like clay and grass as well. The shoe features Gel units in both the forefoot and heel for comfort, along with a multi-directional outsole pattern for all-court use. Along with reliable traction, the Challenger 9, with its Trusstic System in the midfoot, is also one of the most supportive shoes currently on the market.
No. 9 - adidas ClimaCool Feather IV
Even though it was released back in 2010, the adidas ClimaCool Feather IV has built up a solid reputation on the grass. The shoe isn't so easy to find, but if you get your feet into a pair, consider yourself blessed. The Feather IV features all the specs that have made adidas performance sneakers so successful over the years, including adiPrene inserts for comfort, and a 3-D Torsion system for stability.
No. 8 - Lotto Vector 5
The Lotto Vector series doesn't get the same hype as some of the more mainstream tennis shoes, but it can throw down with the best of them on the grass. The shoe comes with a microfiber/mesh upper that offers lightweight support, and an EVA midsole that provides excellent energy return on softer ground.
No. 7 - K-Swiss Grancourt II
The K-Swiss Grancourt II is another one of those shoes that have been around for a few years, but just refuses to go away. The shoe has been a popular choice amongst both pros and amateurs over the years thanks to its high performance at a low price point. The shoe has excellent shock absorption via a K-EVA midsole, and offers one of the most comfortable fits thanks to a soft leather upper.
No. 6 - adidas Barricade 8
The adidas Barricade 8 may be a newcomer, but the shoe is the real deal. Designed for all-court use, the Barricade 8 performs just as well on grass as it does on hard surfaces. As illustrated by Andy Murray, who wore a pair of the shoes in his first-round win at Wimbledon, the Barricade 8 allows players to move around the court with ease. Where the previous model was a bit more plastic than needed, the updated version of one of the most successful tennis shoe series features a more lightweight upper that flexes and breathes better. The shoe's adiWear 6 outsole is designed for multi-surface traction, though its flat pattern is particularly useful on soft surfaces.
No. 5 - New Balance 996
The New Balance 996 may not be as established as some of the other tennis shoes on this list, but it is everything you'd want in a grass court shoe—just ask Milos Raonic, who's been rocking an all-white version at Wimbledon. Along with a flat sole that features a combination of herringbone and organic pattern for traction, the 996 features an anatomical heel that keeps the foot locked in place, offering great ankle support in the process. The shoe's mesh upper features a synthetic webbing over the toe box for lightweight durability.
No. 4 - Nike Air Max Courtballistec 4.3 GRS
Rafael Nadal may have been bounced prematurely from the 2013 Wimbledon Championships in a pair of the Nike Air Max Courtballistec 4.3 GRS, but don’t blame the shoes. The GRS version of the Courtballistec 4.3 is designed specifically for the green lawn at the All England Club, thanks to a Lunarlon cushioning a springy, responsive ride. The shoe also features a flat, dimpled outsole that allows players to move around on the grass without slipping.
No. 3 - adidas ClimaCool adiZero Feather 2.0
Low to the ground and light as a feather. That's perhaps the easiest way to define the ClimaCool adiZero Feather 2.0 from adidas. Seen on the feet of numerous Tour players, including Jo Wilfried-Tsonga, the Feather 2.0 features a flat non-marking rubber outsole for sound footing. The shoe, with its ClimaCool upper, is one of the most breathable models currently available, and excellent comfort thanks to an Ortholite sockliner that wicks away moisture.
No. 2 - Babolat SFX Wimbledon
What better shoe to hit the grass court in than the Babolat SFX Wimbledon designed exclusively for the historic tournament. Similar in build to the Babolat Propulse series, the SFX Wimbledon features an Ergo-motion dual material midsole that conforms to the foot to distribute pressure on all sides for reliable footing. The shoe has PU Ortholite inside for cushioning, and an exclusive Michelin all-court outsole for flexible traction on any surface, including grass. The SFX even features the official Wimbledon logo, so you'll get instant grass court cred as soon as you lace up.
No. 1 - Nike Zoom Vapor 9 Tour LE
Most notably worn by Roger Federer, the Nike Zoom Vapor 9 Tour is one of the most popular tennis shoes perhaps ever—and there's a reason for that. The shoe features a streamlined upper for a custom fit, complete with strategically placed overlays for support. To give the shoe grass court capability, Nike has rolled out the LE version, with a dimpled rubber outsole that offers traction on the lawn without damaging it. Along with the the LE, the Zoom Vapor 9 Tour can be customized on Nike iD for a grass-friendly sole.
Gurvinder Singh Gandu is a New York City-based writer and wear-tester for Sneaker Report, and contributor to Complex Media. Follow him @GurvinderSG for the latest in performance footwear and gear.