Seb Proisy on the evolution of tennis shoes – French Insider excerpt

Much more goes into the selection of a tennis shoe than just the way it looks. Seb Proisy explains all.

October 9, 2020

The French Insider is your one-stop shop for the news and insight at Roland-Garros this year. In the latest episode, host Jenny Drummond talked to equipment expert Seb Proisy about the evolution of tennis shoes – and the different designs that work for each surface.

Appropriately for a discussion during the French Open, he began by annotating the features of a clay court shoe.

“Clay court [shoes have] the particularity of having deeper indents, and this allows for the clay to go inside and still have some grip on the court,” he explained. “You see a lot of players shake their shoes or hit their racket on their shoes to get the clay off. Even if there is some clay that goes inside, it still allows for some grip. They slide, they don’t slip.”


This is being seen more and more with hard court shoes as well, as players change their technique for navigating the surface.

“Over the years, some hard court shoes are made more for sliding. It doesn’t really matter what you have on hard as long as it allows for some sliding. If you look at Djokovic, he slides all the time on hard,” Proisy pointed out. “20, 30 years ago that wasn’t the case so much [that players did that].”

Novak Djokovic, Australian Open 2020

As for grass courts, the soles are spiked – as you would see on a boot for five-a-side football on astroturf.

“You’ve got these little spikes…this prevents you from falling,” he said. “These grips dig into the grass and they stop you falling. It would be a terrible idea to use it on clay, but on grass it helps you a lot – a lot of grass courts are very slippery.”

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