Tennis shoes are a specific style of shoe worn by tennis players, but more commonly are known as the style of shoe that is worn in any athletic situation. It is primarily a North American phenomenon to call athletic shoes "tennis shoes," but Australians have also taken to this slang.
Tennis shoes go by different names in different parts of the world. In England they're called "trainers." Canadians call them running shoes, runners or gutties. In South Africa and parts of America, they're called sneakers, gym shoes, tennies, sport shoes, sneaks or takkies. They're called rubber shoes in the Philippines and canvers in Nigeria.
Tennis shoes provide a few benefits to the athlete. The shoes help with lateral support so that you won't easily twist your ankle during play. They will also cushion your feet, providing shock absorption if you're running and jumping around. The grip on the soles of tennis shoes also gives an athlete traction control if he or she must quickly stop or start running during a game.
Tennis shoes are similar in appearance to basketball shoes. They have a medium height and thick rubber soles. The sole of a tennis shoe is flat, with a slight grip for use on gym floors (this is why tennis shoes are also called "gym shoes"). They have laces that are tied tight along the top of the shoe so that they will not easily slip off of the foot during athletic activity.
Women's tennis shoes are usually slimmer than men's and have softer colors such as pink and light blue. Most tennis shoes are white or gray, as popularized by brands such as K-Swiss. Other popular producers of tennis shoes are Adidas, New Balance, Reebok, Wilson and Prince.
Since the late 1800s, athletic shoes were commonly referred to as "tennis shoes." In 1887, the Boston Journal of Education said the term "sneakers" was "the name boys give to tennis shoes." It was not long before this time that the shoes were created, by attaching vulcanized rubber to the sole of a shoe. The first "official" and marketed "tennis shoe" was created by Adidas in 1931.