The Pro Staff is arguably Wilson’s most iconic frame, but the Blade has become the company’s No. 1 global performance franchise. Its users covet the racquet’s blend of power to control, all-court precision and its classic, sharp looks. But there’s one characteristic that usually tops the list: Blade fans love how the racquet feels at contact. And when you’ve got such a devoted following, changes had better not upset the formula.
So for the seventh installment of the Blade, Wilson sought to give players an even greater connection to the ball. They consulted player feedback of the most recent model, as well as information gleaned from engineering the new Clash racquet. Which led to several subtle improvements.
Countervail, a special damping carbon fiber in the previous model, has been removed. Some players complained it worked almost too well and created a numbing effect at contact. Its elimination allows for elevated feedback.
Blades have traditionally had plenty of weight toward the upper portion of the hoop to provide stability and plow through. And that hasn’t changed, but the balance point has been lowered about 0.5 centimeters on this latest version. That may not seem like a big number, but it makes the frame easier to handle and quicker through the air for added racquet head speed.
And a completely new addition to the frame is FeelFlex technology: Carbon mapping placed at certain points of the racquet to improve stability and flexibility for the more vertical path of the modern swing, while refining the signature Blade feel. In fact, according to Wilson testing, when compared to previous model this new Blade delivers 20% more horizontal flexibility for better control; 12% more vertical flexibility for added spin; and 11.4% more stability for increased power.
The line will also carry forward the minimalist Wilson design DNA. However, a third color has been added to mirror the look of recently released Clash franchise. The matte black body features gray accents at three and nine o’clock positions on the face, previously occupied by the Blade’s trademark vibrant green. That coloring has moved up to the twelve o’clock position to create a streak of green as the racquet whips through contact.
There will be five models for sale in the US: Blade 98s—16x19 and 18x20 ($219)—Blade 100L ($199), Blade 104 ($219) and Blade Serena Williams Autograph with Countervail ($249).The pre-sale begins at authorized retailers and wilson.com starting August 8, with worldwide purchasing on August 15. Stay tuned for reviews in the coming weeks.