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They say if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. When it came to on-court footwear, Pete Sampras took that idiom to heart for the length of his career. While attaining the world number one ranking for the first of many times and earning multiple titles, Sampras competed in the same style of shoe while remaining incredibly adverse to any sort of deviation.
At least, that was the case until 1996, when designer Tinker Hatfield brought to life a future classic in the Air Oscillate. Cautiously respecting Sampras’ resistance to change, Hatfield designed the Air Oscillate without any input or wear testing from Sampras himself.
Getting the feedback he needed during the design process from other tennis athletes, Tinker eventually “tricked” Sampras into trying the shoe with a game of pick-up basketball. He knew Sampras would not have basketball sneakers, and discreetly slipped him the Air Oscillate for the lighthearted hoops session. Tinker also made sure no detail was overlooked, presenting Sampras the shoes in his very specific size 10.25.
Sampras instantly fell in love with the Air Oscillate. He laced up the tennis shoe for the 1996 Australian Open, and after capturing the title, he began a historic winning streak. Sampras ultimately competed in the Air Oscillate for the remainder of his unforgettable career before retiring in 2002.
Now, long after Sampras last laced up the icon on court, the Air Oscillate is ready for a celebrated retro return.
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