Nike Design Director Wilson Smith still perfectly remembers the time when Serena Williams wanted to experiment with a tennis boot. During the 2004 US Open, Nike created a special tennis boot for Williams. Williams didn't plan to play any matches in those but the tournament organizers made it clear they didn't want the American playing in those because they felt that would have been "too over the top."
"One of my favorite stories that I can think of was working with Serena, and Serena is amazing. I was watching her shoes, she was always wearing boots, so I said, 'What do you think about a tennis boot?' She's like, 'Oh I love the tennis boot', and she signed up.
So, I created these boots and it was really fun, they kind of had a spat on top. So, Serena wears these boots at the US Open and she comes out there in 2004. 2004 US Open, she's wearing these boots, the cameras are flashing like she's on a Paris runway.
That night, they told me at the US Open, 'Hey, we don't want her wearing those boots, that's like, too much, too over the top.' I say, 'Okay it's cool, we just wanted her to warm-up anyway," Smith said, per Sportskeeda.
Williams warmed up in the boots, then took them off
Before one of her 2004 US Open matches, Williams entered the court in the Nike tennis boots specially created for her. After the warm-up was over, Williams took them off and put on her regular Nike shoes.
"So, she wore em, she zipped them off after the warm-ups, she went on and crushed her opponent, it was a great night. The next day, USA Today, was a big picture on the front page on the upper left hand corner with the boots.
And the amazing thing was all the images which were taken during the tournament were all taken during the warm-ups. She never warmed during the match and it showed how Serena pushes beyond the edge of the game itself. She is an influencer but she is larger than life.
That's one of my fun stories," Smith added. At the 2004 US Open, Williams made the round-of-16 before losing to Jennifer Capriati.