The Best Women’s Tennis Shoes for a Strong Performance on the Court

·9-min read

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For beginners and experts alike, here are 11 tennis shoes to handle all types of player needs.

<p>Travel + Leisure / Kristin Kempa</p>

Travel + Leisure / Kristin Kempa

Although “tennis shoe” and “sneaker” get used interchangeably, a true tennis shoe is a very specialized form of footwear. Even if you have just started playing tennis, you’ll need a specific shoe; most courts won’t even let you set foot on them without proper “non-marking” footwear.

We spoke with Micah Thomas, Senior Guest Services Associate at Court 16 in New York City, about what makes tennis shoes different from other athletic sneakers. “A tennis shoe is going to be flat-soled,” he says. “Our regular running and walking shoes have big divots in them that will leave scuff marks on the court. The flat soles allow you to have a better connection with the ground itself and allow you to change directions swiftly, which is very important when playing tennis.”

In addition, continues Thomas, “Tennis shoes are reinforced on the toe box and the heel way more than your average running or walking shoe. This allows support for a lot of lateral movement, rather than just back and forth.”

Best Overall: K-Swiss Hypercourt Express 2

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Why we love it: These lightweight, all-court shoes fit equally well on many shapes of feet. 

What to Consider: If you’re playing exclusively on clay, opt for the Hypercourt Express 2 HB.

What’s remarkable about the K-Swiss Hypercourt Express 2s is how well they fit so many types of feet. I have high arches, narrow heels, and plantar fasciitis, and they fit me perfectly and feel incredibly comfortable and supportive. But women with wider and flatter feet also swear by these shoes (which also come in extra-wide width). This K-Swiss pair is lightweight, breathable, and requires no break-in period, and they move seamlessly from clay to hard court. Plus, we love the design, which puts a high-tech spin on a classic silhouette, and the subtle yet creative color combinations.

Price at time of publish: $110

The Details: Synthetic leather upper, mesh, rubber | Size range: 5 to 11  | Black/lavender, blue/blush, light blue/white, black/white, gray/white/blue, baby blue/pink  | Ortholite insole

Best Stability: Wilson Rush Pro 4.0

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Why We Love It: The bold colors and heavy-duty sole make this shoe perfect for aggressive players. 

What to Consider: For beginners, this is probably too much shoe.

The most athletic tennis players we know prefer the Wilson Rush Pro 4.0, which is ideal for people who move strongly and powerfully on the court. This all-court shoe is incredibly sturdy, with a reinforced chassis for forward and lateral movement. You can opt for traditional white or crazy-bold color combinations, depending on the message you want to send with your shoes.

Price at time of publish: $135

The Details: Leather and synthetic upper, synthetic outsole | Size range: 5.5 to 11 | Blue/white/coral, beet red/white/peach, black/white/blue, white/maroon/saffron, white/pearl blue | OrthoLite foam

Best Budget: Adidas CourtJam Control

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Why We Love It: This basic but comfortable hard-court shoe is ideal for players on a budget. 

What to Consider: The wide toe box might feel awkward on narrower feet.

With all-around cushioning and 50 percent recycled materials, the Adidas CourtJam Control sneakers are great for beginners or players on a budget. Designed for hard courts, these shoes have a bounce-y sole and cushioning that hugs you on all sides, yet they still offer plenty of stability for swift movements.

Price at time of publish: $90

The Details: Engineered mesh upper, Adiwear outsole | Size range: 5 to 11.5 | White/silver, blue/white/silver, white/scarlet/blue, black/white, red/indigo/peach

Related: The 14 Best Tennis Skirts to Wear On and Off the Court in 2023

Best Arch Support: Prince Women’s T22 Tennis Shoe

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Why We Love It: These classic-for-a-reason shoes offer exceptional heel control and arch support.

What to Consider: The T22s come in a very limited selection of colors.

People who love the Prince T22 tend to buy it again year after year. These sneakers are a great fit for people with high arches, heel pain, or plantar fasciitis. The T22s offer a unique combination of generous cushion, heel control, and excellent arch support. The rather futuristic-looking design allows for a balance of breathability and durability that's hard to find.

Price at time of publish: $99

The Details: Synthetic, mesh, rubber  | Size range 6 to 11 | Gray/mint, gray/white, white/silver  | EVA

Best Lightweight: NikeCourt Air Zoom Vapor Pro 2

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Why We Love It: These lightweight, airy shoes offer flexibility and support.

What to Consider: These aren’t as durable as some other shoes on the list.

Need perfectly packable shoes for a tennis getaway? With diagonal color-blocking on the outer mesh, NikeCourt Air Zoom Vapor Pro 2 is cool-looking and cool-feeling. We love the asymmetrical lacing, which serves as extra support during lateral movements on hard courts. These shoes are sleeker and lower-profile than some of the other sneakers on this list, making them good for people with narrow feet or players who like their feet to feel close to the court.

Price at time of publish: $120

The Details: Materials: mesh, rubber | Size range: 5 to 12 | Color options: white/fuschia, black/white, white/platinum, pink/punch, phantom/gray, red/pink | Insole/cushioning type: not listed

Best for Wide Feet: New Balance Women's 806 V1 Tennis Shoe

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Why We Love It: Players with wide feet and bunions swear by these stalwarts.

What to Consider: As of now, these leather sneakers come in white only.

The rare shoe on this list that’s made of leather, not mesh, the New Balance 806s are super comfortable from day one. You can put on a new pair to play in a tournament, and your feet feel like you’ve worn them dozens of times. The extra-wide toe box makes these the best bet for women with wider feet or bunions or people who wear special orthotics. You can choose from four different widths: narrow, standard, wide, and extra-wide.

Price at time of publish: $120

The Details: Leather, rubber | Size range: 5 to 13 | White | Lightning Dry liner

Best All-court: Babolat Women’s Tennis SFX 3 All Court

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Why We Love It: These durable sneakers have memory foam insoles that make them comfortable on any surface. 

What to Consider: The slightly higher collar might be uncomfortable on some ankles.

The Babolat SFX 3 All Court sneakers have extra cushioning in the heel and memory foam insoles, which make this pair especially great for people with foot pain. Plus, the Michelin rubber soles make these particularly durable. We’d recommend these for beginning players who need a shoe that can hold up in active clinics on hard or clay courts.

Price at time of publish: $99

The Details: Materials: ​​mesh, Michelin rubber | Size range: 5.5 to 11  | Color options: white/silver, light blue/cherry, white, bright red | Insole/cushioning type: memory foam

Related: The 8 Best Exercise Skirts and Skorts of 2023

Best for Clay: Adidas Avacourt Clay Court Tennis Shoes

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Why We Love It: Clay court shoes can sometimes look clunky, but the Avacourts have a hip silhouette and color options. 

What to Consider: Considering the higher price tag, these are best suited for frequent or competitive clay players.

The soles of these shoes are designed specifically for play on clay, with a herringbone tread combined with lots of flexibility. To battle toe-drag (which is common on clay), there’s extra reinforcement on the toe cap, as well on other areas of the shoe that are prone to abrasion from gritty surfaces.

Price at time of publish: $140

The Details: Mesh, rubber | Size range: 5 to 11.5 | Black/red, black/metallic, blue/peach, lime/black, black/metallic

Most Comfortable: New Balance Fresh Foam X Lav V2

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Why We Love It: You’ll want to wear these bouncy, foam soles everywhere (but please, keep them on the court). 

What to Consider: These basketball-inspired sneakers are bulkier than some of the other options on this list.

Available in standard and wide widths, the New Balance Fresh Foam X Lav V2s have a shape inspired by basketball sneakers but with everything you need in a tennis shoe: bouncy foam insoles, a reinforced toe bed, and an incredibly hearty heel. They’re sturdy where they need to be and breathable everywhere else.

Price at time of publish: $150

The Details: Mesh, rubber | Size range: 5 to 12 | Pineapple/rose, white/yellow,  jade/blue  | Ortholite insole

Most Durable: K-Swiss Ultrashot 3

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Why We Love It: These stylish and supportive sneakers have a reinforced toe that stands up to drag. 

What to Consider: This pair might not serve players with higher arches.

Available in a staggering array of creative colors, the K-Swiss Ultrashot 3s look lovely but perform like heavy-duty machines. These shoes are designed to hold up to even the most active movements, including 360-degree chassis support and a reinforced drag-guard on the toe. We particularly adore the alloy/turquoise color with the iridescent sole.

Price at time of publish: $140

The Details: Lightweight mesh and perforated synthetic leather, rubber | Size range: 5 to 11 | Gray/purple, asphalt/peach, alloy/turquoise, white/pink,  blue/blush, white/blue, white/blue/blush, dark gray/teal, grape/pink, orchid pink, pink/sapphire | CMEVA

Tips for Buying Tennis Shoes

Consider your playing surface

Most public tennis courts are hard courts (made of concrete or asphalt), while many clubs also offer clay courts. “If you’re playing on clay, you should have clay shoes specifically,” says Court 16’s Thomas. He notes that you’ll also want to store them in a shoe compartment or separate bag, because the clay tends to make a mess. “They also make shoes for hard courts and ‘all court’ shoes,” says Thomas. “Don’t cross-court them if they aren’t that type of shoe.”

Prioritize support and stability

Hard courts tend to be faster, so hard-court shoes tend to have more stability and rigidity, while clay court shoes usually offer more grip and abrasion guarding.

Ensure a perfect fit

"When you are first trying on tennis shoes, they may be mildly uncomfortable, because they'll feel more snug than your usual running/walking shoe,” says Thomas. But later, you’ll appreciate that snugness when you’re moving laterally on the court. Just make sure they aren’t too tight in the toes, since your foot will tend to slide forward during certain types of play.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long do tennis shoes last?

“It varies based on how often you play, but changing every six months is not a bad idea if you’re playing regularly,” says Thomas. “For people who want to keep their shoes in good condition, don’t wear your tennis shoes if you aren’t playing tennis.”

How do you clean tennis shoes?

If you’re playing on clay courts, the grit will gather in between the treads, so consider hosing or knocking off the bottoms after using them. Mesh tennis shoes don’t get very dirty, but spot-clean them with soap and water or a wet rag; don’t toss them in the washing machine. For leather shoes, you can use standard shoe polish.

What is the difference between sneakers and tennis shoes?

Tennis shoes have flat soles, fine treads, and a reinforced toe bed and heel bed. They have more support for lateral movement versus running shoes, which are only designed to go back and forth.

Why Trust Travel + Leisure

Travel + Leisure contributor Nancy Einhart started playing tennis at age 6, took a hiatus for a couple of decades, and now plays at least once a week. For this article, she drew from her years of playing tennis and her extensive tennis community. She also spoke to Micah Thomas, Senior Guest Services Associate at Court 16 in New York City.

Related: The 15 Best Running Shoes for Women of 2023

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