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Babolat SFX3 Women's Review - Tennis Warehouse

Babolat SFX3 AC Blue/Cherry Women's Tennis Shoes

Upsides

  • Soft cushioning
  • Durable outsole
  • Good fit for wide feet

Downsides

  • Too wide for narrow feet (support suffers)
Video Review

Summary

When the Babolat SFXs first arrived on the scene, wide-footed tennis players reveled in their roomy fit and lauded their plush comfort. With the second model, Babolat revamped the series with a sleeker fit to make it more performance oriented. Babolat is going back to basics with the new SFX3s, returning to the wider fit and plush cushioning that made the original SFXs a hit. Although all of our testers loved the comfort of the Kompressor System and the impressive insole cushioning, the width of these shoes proved to be divisive. Foot width was the main factor that determined how supported each tester felt. Our wide-footed tester enjoyed a stable ride around the court, but our more narrow-footed players were left sliding around in their shoes. When it came to durability and traction, however, our testers were back on the same page. The SFX3s held up well for them and offered consistent, grippy traction throughout the playtest. Players with wider feet who are looking for a comfortable, all-around performer that can stand up to hours and hours of play will love what these SFX3s have to offer.

Babolat SFX3 Women's Shoe Scores

Comfort 4.0
Ventilation 4.0
Arch Support 3.8
Foot Support/Stability 3.0
Overall Sole Durability 4.0
Toe Durability 4.3
Traction 3.9
Weight 3.7
Overall 3.7

Comfort - Score: 4.0

The SFX3s promise players comfort with Kompressor System heel cushioning and a memory foam insole. All of our playtesters appreciated the comfortable feel the SFX3s provided below their feet, but foot shape played a large part in how these shoes felt on court. Tiffani has the widest feet on the playtest team and found the best fit. She explained, "I was a huge fan of the original SFX shoes, so I was really excited to try out this latest edition. The SFX2s were too narrow for my wide feet, so I'm happy to report the SFX3s have returned to a wider fit. These shoes felt immediately comfortable, and my feet filled out the width nicely. The uppers are quite pliable, so there was no pinching, and the mesh material made them feel well ventilated. The cushioning is soft and pillow-like underfoot. The original SFX had the best cushioning I can recall in any tennis shoe. Although the SFX3s don't quite achieve that level of comfort, there's still more than enough cushioning for me to feel comfortable running around the tennis court."

Michelle also enjoyed the comfort, but the lack of support limited her experience somewhat. She said, "After having worn the previous two versions of the SFXs, I knew these shoes were going to be comfortable! I was right; the SFX3s are super cushioned and plush underfoot with step-in comfort and soft uppers. The upper was flexible and not the most supportive, but definitely comfortable. These are shoes I would wear to play doubles in or to teach in; I didn't quite feel confident wearing them for tough drilling or singles matches though."

Our tester with the narrowest feet, Kristen, had a similar experience to Michelle. Kristen said, "These shoes offer very plush underfoot cushioning and soft, breathable uppers. They had step-in comfort and didn't require a break-in. While these shoes fit true to size length-wise, they were quite wide in the forefoot. My narrow feet were practically swimming around in these shoes, and I could immediately tell that they weren't going to be the most supportive on the court."

Foot Support/Stability - Score: 3.0

Inner support straps help add some structure to the soft uppers of the SFX3s, and our testers found varying degrees of support, which once again was determined by foot shape. Michelle struggled in this category, but she found these shoes suitable for lower-impact movement on the court. She described, "As I mentioned, the uppers weren't the most supportive, and I did have some stability and support issues with these shoes. The SFX3s were a bit wide for my medium feet, and at times I felt like I was tipping over inside the shoes. It almost seemed like the insoles had an edge that I was tripping over. I tried to cinch the shoes up, but the uppers puckered a bit, proving that these shoes were just too wide for my feet. Again, this wasn't a huge problem when I was more casual on the court, but I quickly realized that these weren't going to be shoes I would aggressively drill in. However, they were sublime when I was teaching — so comfortable and soft, with all the support I needed for casual hitting."

Kristen agreed, adding, "As suspected from the initial wide fit, my feet were not well supported in these SFX3s, and they were sliding around a lot during play. When I moved laterally I was slipping into the sides of the shoes; when sprinted forward my feet would shift forward, resulting in bad toe jam. Consequently, my feet felt quite sore during and after playing. Due to the fit, I was just never going to get a locked-in feel in these shoes. The SFX3s are definitely better suited for people with wider feet."

On the flip side, Tiffani was happy to find shoes that fit and supported her wide feet well. She said, "These shoes felt pretty stable to me for all of my movements. I never felt that I was even close to tipping over or rolling an ankle. The uppers were on the soft side, though, so I needed to make sure I cinched up the shoes around my feet to ensure they wouldn't let my feet slide side to side too much when I was moving laterally. This wasn't a hazard or anything; I just prefer to limit that sort of movement inside my shoes for more efficient footwork on the court."

Overall Sole Durability - Score: 4.0

Like other Babolat shoes, the SFX3s come equipped with a Michelin rubber outsole, which proved plenty durable for our team of three. However, they weren't always easy to keep clean. Kristen explained, "The SFX3s offered good durability. I didn't notice any wear on the soles or toe guard by the end of the test. However, I did notice that these shoes got dirty very quickly."

The story was much the same for Tiffani, who said, "I have seen little to no wear on the toes and outsoles of my SFX3s, and I've easily put 15 hours on them. Typically I would see a little bit of smoothing somewhere by this point in a playtest, so these SFX3s are lasting longer than the shoes we've been testing as of late. Although this isn't really a durability issue, these shoes pick up dirt quickly, so they look a bit more worn than they actually are. I will definitely be cleaning my pair periodically to remove the dirt smudges."

Michelle also appreciated how well the outsoles on her SFX3s were holding up, but she did notice some unattractive scuffing on the uppers. She said, "The durability seemed pretty solid to me. I opted out of wearing my SFX3s for more intense hitting sessions, but I still put in plenty of hours on the court, and they're holding up great on the outsole. That Michelin rubber always seems to offer great durability and consistent wear as the weeks of play add up. My one complaint regarding durability is that the uppers and toe guard seemed to accumulate a lot of wear, and the shoes don't look as nice as I would like at the end of this playtest. I had some noticeable scuff marks on mine."

Traction - Score: 3.9

The all-court tread pattern on these SFX3s offered plenty of stick on the indoor Tennis Warehouse hard court. Michelle noted, "The traction on the SFX3s worked just fine for me. I found it to be relatively sticky, which was great. It kept me confident even though I felt like my feet were slightly sloppy inside the shoes. Again, that Michelin rubber has always been something I've enjoyed and appreciated about Babolat shoes, and I found the tread to wear evenly throughout the playtest."

"These shoes are on the stickier side and really didn't allow for much sliding," Tiffani added. "The traction level was fine for me, and although it was grippy, I never felt stuck to the court."

Kristen, however, prefers a slicker outsole, so the traction on the SFX3s wasn't exactly what she was looking for. She described, "I found these shoes to have substantial stick to them. At times I felt there was a bit too much grab, which distracted me when I was trying to make quick cuts toward balls. I could have used a little bit more give."

Weight - Score: 3.7

The SFX3s certainly didn't weigh our team down on the court; they're right on the cusp of what Tennis Warehouse classifies as "lightweight" women's shoes. Tiffani said, "These SFX3s felt middle of the road for weight. They're definitely not speedy like Babolat's Jet models, but they don't feel heavy either, especially considering their durability and cushioning level. They do feel lighter around the court than the original SFX shoes."

For Kristen, the feel of these shoes came down to fit more than weight. She said, "These SFX3s felt pretty lightweight in nature. These are not shoes that are going to hold me back weight-wise; for me, the issue was fit and not feeling locked in when on the run."

Michelle thought the weight of these shoes complemented their performance. She concluded, "I wouldn't call these 'light' shoes, but I didn't ever find them heavy or bulky despite the layers of cushioning. The SFX3s aren't the highest performing shoes on the market, but they were built for players looking hours of all-around comfort on the court. For this level of cushioning, I was happy with the weight."

Overall - Score: 3.7

Likes

Tiffani - "I enjoy the SFX3s for their step-in comfort, wide fit, durability and cushioning."

Michelle - "The plush underfoot cushioning is super comfortable and hard to beat."

Kristen - "These shoes have plush, comfortable cushioning and are nicely breathable."

Dislikes

Tiffani - "The SFX3s show dirt easily."

Michelle - "The fit is just a tad too wide for my medium feet, so I feel like I have to compromise on support and stability. I love these for casual tennis, but not when I'm planning to move super aggressively."

Kristen - "The SFX3s fit too wide in the forefoot and lack a supportive, stable feel."

Comparing the shoe to others they've tried, our testers said:

Tiffani - "The Babolat SFX3s are nice and wide, which works in my favor. These shoes are about as wide as the Fila Axilus Energized shoes, but they offer more cushioning. While I loved the original SFX, the narrower SFX2 never quite worked for me, so I'm happy the SFX3 is back to the wider fit. The cushioning is soft, and although it isn't quite as plush as the original model, the comfort factor is still there. These shoes are more breathable than the previous versions as well."

Michelle - "It's been a few seasons since the first SFXs were on the market, but it seems Babolat has returned to a wider fit with these SFX3s. While that wide fit doesn't necessarily work for me, I know there are plenty of players out there looking for a wide fit and extra cushioning, and this shoe will be perfect for them. The cushioning reminds me of the Diadora Speed Star K, another one of my favorite shoes, but the SFX3s feature a wider fit than the Diadoras, and the mesh upper is a bit lighter and more breathable than the kangaroo leather on the Diadoras."

Kristen - "The SFX3s are the first SFX model I've tested, so I can't speak to previous versions. At the onset of the playtest these SFX3s felt similar to the Head Revolt Pro 2.0s. However, the Revolt Pro 2.0s provided better support for my feet than these shoes."

Scores

(Scores are determined by averaging individual play test scores)

Tiffani's Scores
Overall Comfort4.5Overall Sole Durability4.5
Ventilation4Toe Durability4.5
Arch Support4Traction4
Foot support/Stability3.8Weight3.7
Overall4
Michelle's Scores
Overall Comfort4.5Overall Sole Durability3.5
Ventilation4Toe Durability
Arch Support3.8Traction4
Foot support/Stability3Weight3.5
Overall3.8
Kristen's Scores
Overall Comfort3Overall Sole Durability4
Ventilation4Toe Durability4
Arch Support3.5Traction3.6
Foot support/Stability2.3Weight3.9
Overall3.3

Playtester Foot Types

Tiffani - Wide width / Low arch

Michelle - Medium width / High arch

Kristen - Narrow width / Medium arch

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