RG Culture: Champions’ shoes on display

Several pairs of trainers worn by Roland-Garros champions are currently on display in Bordeaux.

Exposition Playground - Le design des sneakers / madd-Bordeaux / Sneakers for Winners / Musée des Arts décoratifs et du Design Bordeaux©Alastair Philip Wiper

As part of the Playground – The design of sneakers exhibition in the Musée des Arts Décoratifs et du Design in Bordeaux (from 20th June 2020 to 10th January 2021), some iconic pieces from the French Tennis Federation’s collections feature among the 600 pairs of trainers displayed.

Much more than a simple timeline retelling the history of sneakers, from the first models of sports shoes in the 1900s up to the present day, the exhibition describes trainers as a social phenomenon. With revolutionary technical innovations, celebrity endorsements and creations signed by top fashion designers, sneakers are a true cultural phenomenon and have enjoyed an extraordinary rise to fame.  

Rafael Nadal sneakers during Roland-Garros 2012©Corinne Dubreuil / FFT

A burst of colour

The exhibition showcases six pairs of trainers worn by champions who triumphed on the red clay at Roland-Garros. Added to this are two pairs of white canvas tennis shoes from the early decades when players had to wear white.

When big-name equipment manufacturers started designing the tennis players’ shoes and clothes, bright colours came to the fore, with Andre Agassi pioneering the trend with his fluorescent outfits in the 1980s. Nevertheless, the two pairs of trainers worn by celebrity couple and Roland-Garros champions Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf in 1999 were relatively discreet, featuring just two colours to match their outfits.

Serena Williams sneakers during Roland-Garros 2002©FFT

Gold for Williams, white for Federer

Serena Williams, who has always had a penchant for fashion and flashy colours, wore gold-coloured tennis shoes in 2002. But sobriety is key for Roger Federer, who wore a pair of white trainers for the Roland-Garros final in 2006, though adorned with a futuristic touch. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga, meanwhile, opted for black and lime green when he hit the courts in 2011. As for Rafael Nadal, the Spaniard favours a two-tone shoe, like the red and white trainers and matching outfit he wore to clinch victory in 2012.


Visit the Musée des Arts Décoratifs et du Design in Bordeaux from 20th June 2020 to 10th January 2021 to look round the Playground – The design of sneakers exhibition!

Exposition Playground - Le design des sneakers, madd-Bordeaux
©Alastair Philip Wiper