73 Interesting facts about Tennis
1. Tennis is believed to have originated in the monastic cloisters in northern France in the 12th century. Interestingly, the ball was then struck with palm of the hand. At that time it was named “jeu de paume” (game of the palm). Rackets came into use during the 16th century.
2. The word “Tennis” comes from the Anglo-Norman term “Tenez.”
3. Wimbledon, or the Wimbledon Championships, is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, and also considered to be the most prestigious.
4. The first Wimbledon was played in 1877. It is also the first of the four “Grand Slams” to be founded.
5. The US Open was founded in 1881, the French in 1891, and the Australian in 1905. These four major tournaments have been designated as “Grand Slam” tournaments.
6. A player is said to have won a Career Grand Slam if they win all four majors at any time during their career; a Non calendar-Year Grand Slam if they win the four majors consecutively, but not in the same year, and a Grand Slam if they win all four majors in a single year.
7. The longest tennis match took 11 hours and 5 minutes to complete. It was played between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut. Ultimately, John Isner triumphed with a score line of 6–4, 3–6, 6–7, (7–9), 7–6(7–3), 70–68 (final set).
8. Tennis is also an Olympic sport, and it can be played by wheelchair users.
9. The Davis Cup dates to 1900. It is an annual competition between men’s national teams.
10. Did you know that the Fed Cup, which is an analogous competition for women’s national teams, was founded in 1963 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the ITF?
11. The year 1968 marked the beginning of the open era in professional tennis. The French Open was the first “Grand Slam” event to go open.
Facts about tiebreaks or tiebreakers in Tennis
12. Did you know that the tiebreaker, or tiebreak, was invented by James Van Alen in 1965?
13. Originally, two types of tiebreakers were introduced in the game by Van Alen. The one that would end after a maximum of 9 points was called the “sudden-death tiebreaker,” while the one with 12 points was called the “lingering death” tiebreak. The 12-points tiebreak continues until one player or team wins by a margin of at least two points and with a minimum of 7 points.
14. The Davis cup first adopted the tiebreaker in all sets except the final set in 1989, and made amendments in their rules to adopt the tiebreakers for all five sets in 2016.
15. 1971 – the tiebreak was introduced in Wimbledon.
16. The French Open is the only major tournament to not use a tiebreak in the final set for singles.
17. Don Budge is the only male player in tennis history to have won six consecutive Grand Slam singles titles, from Wimbledon in 1937 to the US Open in 1938.
18. The fastest serve in men’s tennis came from the racket of Australian Sam Groth at 263.44 km/h.
19. Germany’s Sabine Lisicki hit a serve 210 km/h—the fastest ever recorded in women’s tennis.
20. In 2007, the prize money for Wimbledon winners became equal for men and women. 1968 was the first ever Wimbledon to offer prize money.
21. The term “Love” used in the scoring system of tennis is said to have originated from the French word for “egg,” l’oeuf, because a zero on a scoreboard resembles an egg. However, these claims are unsubstantiated.
22. In the men’s game, Roger Federer has earned 20 Grand Slam singles titles (until January 28, 2018) while on the women’s side, Margaret Court has 24 singles majors. With 19 Grand Slam singles titles, Rafael Nadal stands second on the men’s list with the most singles Grand Slam titles.
23. Did you know that if the ball hits a player’s body or any part of their clothing before it lands, it is their opponent’s point (even if it would have gone out)?
24. Arthur Ashe was the first African American to win the US Open. He won the tournament for the first and the only time in 1968. He said –
“Start where you are. Use what you have. Do what you can.”
25. The average age of Ball Boys/Girls who serve at Wimbledon is 15. Every year, 250 of these young kids are selected to serve at the tournament.
26. Rufus – a Harris Hawk – is stationed at Wimbledon to keep its sky clear of local pigeons. Would you believe that this hawk has more than 10000 followers on Twitter?
27. Players must submit their clothing to the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club for approval before participating in the Wimbledon championships.
Did you know?
28. The game of Tennis also became an indirect reason for the death of King James I of Scotland.
29. Every year, 24 tons of strawberries are consumed during Wimbledon.
30. In the earlier years of Wimbledon, women wore full-length dresses.
31. Roger Federer has scored 11,365 aces to this day, placing him in the third spot on the list of most aces, while Ivo Karlovic tops the list with 13,599 aces.
32. Roger Federer leads all men’s tennis players in terms of the highest amount of career prize money. He had collected $129,946,683 U.S. dollars as of June 9, 2020.
33. 1972 is the year when The Association of Tennis Professionals was formed.
Interesting facts about tennis balls, rackets
34. As per The International Tennis Federation, the weight of a tennis ball must be between 56.0 and 59.4 grams.
35. Tennis balls were originally white. In 1986, yellow balls were first introduced at Wimbledon.
36. The overall permissible length of a tennis racket is 29 inches.
37. Until 1975, three of the four Grand Slams – Wimbledon, the US Open and the Australian Open – were played on grass.
38. According to the International Tennis Federation, hard courts were used in official tournaments as far back as the 1940s.
39. Clay, Hard, Glass, Carpet, and Wood are the five types of court surfaces used in professional tennis.
40. At Wimbledon, the grass is cut to a height of exactly 8 mm during the event.
41. An estimated 54,250 tennis balls are used during Wimbledon.
About – players, matches, trophies, and stadiums
42. Goran Ivanisevic is the only Wimbledon winner whose name alternates consonants and vowels.
43. Boris Becker is the youngest player ever to win a Wimbledon title. He is also the only unseeded player in history to win the prestigious title. He was 17 years old in 1985 when he won it.
44. The shortest tennis match lasted a mere 20 minutes. It was played between Susan Tutt and Marion Bandy in 1969 at Wimbledon.
45. The Roland Garros Stadium, which hosts the French Open, is named after a French aviator – Roland Garros.
46. The winner’s trophy at Wimbledon remains on display at the All England Club’s museum as winners do not take their trophies with them. However, they are given small replicas of the official trophies.
47. The golden cup given to the men’s winner dates back to 1887, while the trophy given to women, called the “salver,” dates back to 1864.
48. Tanking is a term in tennis for losing a match or “fixing” it for some benefit.
49. Tennis elbow is an inflammation of the tendons that join the forearm muscles on the outside of the elbow.
50. The loudest grunt, which reached 105 decibels, came from Maria Sharapova in 2009 during Wimbledon.
51. The first set of sisters to ever win Olympic gold medals in tennis were Venus and Serena Williams.
52. The Olympics introduced tennis in 1896 and removed the game in 1924. However, tennis was reintroduced at the 1988 Olympics and continues to be a part of the games to this day.
53. Tennis court is the venue where a tennis match is played.
54. In the beginning, tennis courts were hourglass-shaped. Rectangular courts have been in existence since 1875.
55. The court is a firm rectangular surface with a low net stretched across the center.
56. Different types of surfaces can be used to create a tennis court. E.g. Clay, grass, hard, and carpet. Each surface affects the playing style of the game. On some surfaces the ball moves fast while on the others it moves slowly.
57. The International Tennis Federation is the governing body of Tennis and looks after the rules of the game.
58. For singles matches, the tennis court is 78 feet (23.77 m) long and 27 feet (8.23 m) wide. For doubles matches, the length of the court remains the same but the width is 36 feet (10.97 m).
59. On each side of the court, the area between the service line and the net is divided into two equal parts, the service courts, by the centre serviceline. The centre serviceline is drawn parallel to the singles sidelines and half way between them.
60. The service lines are 21 feet from the net on each side.
61. The lines at the ends of the court are called baselines and the lines at the sides of the
court are called sidelines.
62. It is interesting to note here that all court measurements are made to the outside of the lines and all lines of the court shall be of the same colour clearly contrasting with the colour of the surface.
63. Some more clear space around the tennis court is needed for the players to reach overrun balls. Thus, an area of at least 60 feet in width and 120 feet in length is needed to build a comfortable tennis court.
64. The net which is placed at the centre of the court, parallel with the baselines, divides the court into two equal parts.
65. The net is 3 feet and 6 inches high at the post and 3 feet high at the centre.
66. Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam to have always been played on the same surface – grass. The rest of the three Grand Slams have switched their surfaces sometime or the other in the past.
67. The U.S. Open is the only major to have been played on three surfaces.
68. Grass court is the fastest type of the courts in common use. It tends to favor serve and volley tennis players. The serve plays an important role here because the ball bounces low on this surface and the points are short. Tournaments played on grass include Halle Open, the Stuttgart Open etc. Roger Federer is one of the greatest grass court players the game has ever seen. He has won a record of eight Wimbledon titles.
69. Clay court supports baseline players because the court surface allows higher bounce and hence the players get more time to get to the ball and return the shot. Players can also easily slide from side to side on the surface. Rafael Nadal is the world’s best clay court player. He has won 12 French Open Grand Slams.
70. The third type of court surface is the hard court. It is made from asphalt or concrete with a coating of paint on the top. The paint is mixed with some sand to control the speed of the ball on the surface. The size and the quantity of the sand mixed in the paint affects the speed of the ball on the court. The US Open uses an acrylic hard court and the Australian Open uses a synthetic hard court. Tournaments played on hard court include Nitto ATP Finals, The Shanghai Masters etc.
71. An advantage of the hard court is that it dries up very quickly and hence it is considered an all weather surface.
72. Rallies on the hard court are longer than the grass but generally shorter than on clay.
73. The fourth type of court surface is carpet. It is a removable court covering. The surface is made of turf and sand is spread on it. A carpet court is the second fastest court surface next to grass court. The balls on this surface do not bounce very high and hence do not give the player much reaction time to return it. However, these courts are in a very limited use today because the matches played on this surface are not much engaging to watch.
Some interesting tennis laws
- If an additional ball enters the court while a point is in progress, the point must be replayed.
- If a player catches the ball during a point before it bounces, they forfeit the point (regardless of the ball’s position). The ball must hit the ground first for the ball to be ruled out before a player can catch it or stop it with his body.
- The receiving team is allowed to stand anywhere during the serve except in the service box.
- If a doubles team audibly communicates loudly during a point, they forfeit the point.
- If the serving player swings during the toss and misses the ball, it is considered a fault.