Who Invented the Tennis Shoe?

The term "tennis shoe" is used generically for athletic shoes as well as footwear for tennis. They are sometimes called sneakers. Whatever they are called, they are used in casual wear, regardless of whether sports are involved. There seems to be as much mystery around who invented tennis shoes as what exactly they are.


It appears the first tennis shoes came from Britain. They were created both for recreation and for sailors who were looking for footwear that was more appropriate for wearing on deck.

Time Frame

Tennis shoes first began to show up in Britain in the late 1800s. At that time, they were worn only by sailors and wealthy aristocrats who wanted them for sports.

First Ones in U.S.

Keds invented the first tennis shoes in the United States. The Converse All-Star was released in 1917.


The first tennis shoes were made of canvas. This washable material was practical for busy workers as well as athletes.

Fun Fact

As the desire for tennis shoes increased, manufacturers found ways to make them so they could improve an athlete's performance. The shoes were no longer only footwear for recreation.