While classic, timeless sneaker styles may sometimes be overlooked by younger shoppers in favor of hyped collaborations, tennis influence remains quite eminent in the sneaker world today. Over the past few years, we've seen understated yet functional, tennis-rooted silhouettes from the likes of Nike, Reebok, adidas, Common Projects and more make a huge comeback.

It's safe to say, tennis shoes have surely earned their place in the sneaker world, and for years, Superga has been a leader in this category. Founded in 1911, Superga was first modeled as a rubber company, before shuttering the doors of its factory during WWII. Post-war, Superga returned with the aim of purveying high-quality footwear to the people of Italy. Soon after came a range of technical sports shoes, similar to those worn by Italian tennis player Adriano Panatta at the peak of his career.

To find out a bit more about Panatta's role with Superga, and how his signature model is making a comeback today, we caught up with the legendary Italian athlete.

What is your first memory of Superga?

My first memory of Superga was when they called me many years ago, maybe 1974 or 1975. They called and said they wanted to sign a contract with me, so I went to Torino. At that time, Superga was owned by tire maker Pirelli, so the CEO of Pirelli called me to his office and said he would be delighted to sign a contract with me.

Once we started discussing the contact, I asked for a certain salary, and the CEO said that this amount of money is much more than he earned himself at the time, but we still signed the contract. I actually thought Supergas were summer shoes meant for the beach, so I was very surprised when they called me.

When I signed with Superga, I asked to changed the sole because it was too slippery, so we took the sole from a pair of boat shoes, and it was perfect.

You recently released your own signature Superga, how did you decide on the colorway?

I actually picked the colors with Lorenzo from Superga, it's a very vintage colorway. It's the same shoe I used to play in.

I want to know your opinion on how tennis shoes can appeal to the fashion community, and how they can be worn off the court?

There are a few examples, including the adidas Stan Smith, which is 45 years old. It's one of the the most popular models in the world.

Did you ever play with Stan Smith?

Yes he is like three or four years older then me, we played singles and doubles. He's a good friend of mine we; saw each other the other night. We sat together at the International Tennis Federation dinner.

How do you think tennis has changed today in terms of speed or technique?

It's drastically different in terms of speed and power. The ball moves very quickly, and as a result, tennis has shifted from being an attacking game to mostly holding your position at the baseline.

Who are some of your favorite players to watch today?

The only one is Federer.

I read that you are the only person to delete Björn Borg at the French Open. Do you have any memories from that event? Were you wearing Superga?

Yes I remember, of course I was wearing Supergas when I beat him.

Before the final, I remember my partner Paolo Bertolucci took my shoes by mistake. When I arrived at Roland Garros in the morning, I couldn’t find my shoes, so I called a friend of mine who owned a tennis shop in Italy. I told him I had no shoes and I need to play in the finals that day, he told me not to worry, so he took a pair of shoes and drove to the airport in Rome. Then he asked for a pilot going to Paris, and he gave him a pair of shoes for me. Then a friend of mine from Paris went to get them from the pilot, an delivered them to me 10 minutes before I had to play. Just in time.

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  • Main & Featured Image:Chris Danforth / Highsnobiety.com
  • Product Images:Dominik Schulte / Highsnobiety.com

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