52 Interesting Facts About Tennis

Last updated on September 25th, 2019

Tennis is a racket sport that can be played individually against a single opponent, or between teams of two players each. It is also a globally popular spectator sport and is played by millions of recreational enthusiasts, as well. Let’s uncover more about it.

52 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.

The All England lawn Tennis and Croquet Club
The All England lawn Tennis and Croquet Club. Photo by – Jay Galvin

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 US Open is the only major tournament to 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.

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.”

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