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Leylah Fernandez “experimenting” on court with Puma Stewie 2 basketball shoes
The Canadian has swapped out her On Running shoes for WNBA star Breanna Stewart’s signature sneakers during matches in the post-US Open hard-court swing.
Published Sep 23, 2023
Leylah Fernandez has become one of tennis’ biggest trendsetters since her major breakthrough at the 2021 US Open, and the 21-year-old’s bold style is once again in the spotlight after donning basketball shoes during tennis matches.
Last year, Fernandez led the way as the first global brand ambassador in tennis for Lululemon, marking the Canadian sportswear giant’s biggest move into the sport. She was also one of the first players to rock On Running tennis shoes on court, and since 2022 she has frequently paired her Lululemon outfits with Roger Federer’s signature shoe.
Now, Fernandez seems to be at the forefront of another shift in tennis fashion, after being spotted playing in a women’s basketball shoe during matches at the US Open, San Diego and Guadalajara.
“I’ve been getting a lot of questions and comments about that,” Fernandez told TennisOne in Guadalajara. “Yes I am (wearing basketball shoes), I’m wearing Puma Stewie 2 and they feel super comfortable.”
The signature shoe of WNBA legend Breanna Stewart, the Stewie 2 is inspired by the qualities that make the New York Liberty star a “force of nature”—colorways include Water, Earth and Fire—with Fernandez opting for the cool blue, aqua and white version.
Fernandez, who is not sponsored by Puma, says it was by complete coincidence that she picked up the Stewie 2 in the first place: She just liked the way they looked.
“They actually look a lot like tennis shoes—that’s actually where I saw them,” Fernandez recalled. “I saw it close to the tennis shoes and it looked like a tennis shoe, and I’m like, Ah, let me try this out. The clerk just told me, No, it’s basketball shoes.
“And then, some funny statement my dad made… He said why not just try it out on the tennis court? I’m like, yeah I’ll do it! Let me buy it and let’s try it out. And I fell in love with it.”
According to Puma, the “court-ready” shoes feature a high-abrasion rubber outsole with non-slip rubber compounds, as well as a cushioning made from nitrogen-injected foam for “superior responsiveness and comfort” while still remaining lightweight.
It’s described as a shoe built for basketball’s jumping, cutting and explosive movements—but how does that translate to the tennis court?
“So far it’s been going super well,” Fernandez confirmed. “I’m feeling great on court. I love the shoes, I love the colors. It matches super well with the Lululemon outfit.
“I’m super happy that I get to experiment on a couple of things.”
Fernandez isn’t the only WTA player taking inspiration from basketball into her matches. US Open champion Coco Gauff unveiled her signature shoe last year, the New Balance Coco CG1, which featured a high-top design and basketball-inspired construction specifically made for tennis.