The Nike design team, led by veteran Aaron Cooper, set out to design a shoe that would offer Serena Williams more, by providing less. More stability, less structure.
“Serena was looking for a shoe with more stability that was bigger and more built up,” Cooper says. “What she actually needed was the complete opposite; something that was less built up and with a lower profile. She needed something that would really work with her as a second skin.”
Inspired by the work Eric Avar did with Kobe, and also working with a Kung Fu master, Cooper and his team created Serena’s latest signature shoe. The Kobe inspired, low profile silhouette provides a free-er range movement, while the Kung-Fu inspired neoprene ankle cuff creates an ‘awareness of the body’s movement in space, which provides Williams with a feeling of stability and, thus, increased confidence.’
Aside from a ton of upper design features, the outsole was mapped to provide Serena with added durability on the court. Having studied how Tennis players moved, the team designed a tooling that only offered durable areas where it was necessary, which therefore allowed them to cut unnecessary features and provide a super light weight and flexible sneaker.
“We obsessed every millimeter in the NikeCourt Flare because millimeters translate to milliseconds in sport,” Cooper says. “And for Serena, milliseconds can be the difference between just getting the ball over the net and hitting a winner.”
Check out the video below, where lead designer Aaron Cooper breaks down the design story of the NikeCourt Flare.
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