Tennis ace Stan Smith kicks off Adidas Classics shoe exhibition

PUBLISHED : Friday, 13 March, 2009, 12:00am
UPDATED : Friday, 13 March, 2009, 12:00am

US tennis legend Stan Smith was due to drop by The Factory in Wong Chuk Hang yesterday - twice. Once for the press in the afternoon, and then later for the global House Party adidas was holding to celebrate its 60th anniversary and pay tribute to founder Adi Dassler.

He was there to kick off the 'adidas Stan Smith Classics Exhibition'. Smith, a former Wimbledon and US Open champion, is arguably one of the best competitors of all time. He went home with seven Davis Cup victories and won the US Open doubles title four times with fellow player Bob Lutz, among other trophies. Smith first had a low-cut tennis shoe named after him by adidas in 1971.

On show at The Factory, and in a later exhibition, were adidas sports shoes since the 1960s. Smith these days wears the Stan Smith Millennium, which he says gives him more cushion when he's playing. On the wall was the Stan Smith logo showing Smith with a moustache - which he still proudly retains - and a 1970s haircut.

There's perhaps a little less hair on top now - as Smith waited in an open lobby below the press to lope up the steps in his green tracksuit, photographers gleefully took photos of his bald pate. Frightfully unsporting.

Smith laughed and said a lot of young people bought Stan Smith sports shoes. 'And a lot of those young people don't know that I'm a tennis player. They think I'm a shoe.'

He said tennis had become tougher than it was in his day. 'There used to be players from the US, the UK, Australia. Now they are from all over the world. And the depth and range is greater.'

He said there were good players in the US - where he has a tennis training school - but often the players didn't train all year round, due to education commitments, whereas in other countries they were wholly dedicated to tennis.

American R&B artist 'Usher also wears Stan Smith shoes', Smith said. 'I'd like to meet him one day, give him a few tips on singing.'

The 'adidas Stan Smith Classics Exhibition' runs from March 17 to April 5 at J-01, Shop NoB, G/F, 57 Paterson Street, Causeway Bay.