Tennis Facts
Tennis Facts

28 Interesting Tennis Facts

James Israelsen
By James Israelsen, Associate Writer
Published November 4, 2022
  • There is a dispute over where the name for tennis originated. Some argue it comes from a town called "Tinis" in Egypt, where a similar game was played; others believe it comes from the French tenez, which means "take this."[4]
  • The French monks who invented tennis originally called it jeu de palm, which means "hand game."[4]
  • Although each score is worth 15 points the first two times a player scores in a tennis match, it changes to just ten points after they reach 30 points.[2]
  • Australian tennis player Samuel Groth once served a ball that was clocked at 163.6 mph (263.4 km/h).[7]
  • Tennis was a common sport between the 13th and 16th centuries but faded in popularity until the 1900s, when the invention of vulcanized rubber allowed for mass production of bouncy balls.[4]
  • Although the system for scoring a tennis match has been the same since the Victorian era, no one actually knows why the scoring rules are the way they are.[2]
  • The two most powerful kings of the 16th century, Henry VIII of Britain and Francois I of France, were both impressive tennis athletes.[1]
  • The first US Open, held in 1968, was attended by 97,000 spectators, which was a 15% increase in audience size from previous tennis championships in the United States.[9]
  • History of tennis
    A historical tennis court
  • Before 1877, tennis courts had an hourglass shape instead of the modern-day rectangle.[4]
  • The organization that governs international tennis competition is called the International Lawn Tennis Federation.[9]
  • The "Open era" of tennis began in 1968, when championships in England, France, and the United States were opened up to professional and amateur players alike.[9]
  • Actor Will Smith slapped comedian Chris Rock for insulting his wife at the Oscars, the same night that Smith won best actor for his role playing the father of tennis legend Serena Williams.[10]
  • Anne Boleyn was watching her husband, King Henry VIII, play a game of tennis when she was arrested for treason; according to rumor, Henry was back on the court playing another match at the time of her execution.[1]
  • Female tennis legend Chris Evert won 101 of a total 113 singles matches played in the US Open.[6]
  • The longest tennis match ever was played at Wimbledon in 2010, when it took John Isner 11 hours and 5 minutes to defeat Nicolas Mahut.[7]
  • Roger Federer holds the most men's tennis titles, including 20 Grand Slam wins.[7]
  • Billie Jean King
    In this "Battle of the Sexes" match, King brought greater awareness to female athletics
  • In 1973, after female tennis legend Billie Jean King spoke out against the chauvinistic on-court behavior of Bobbie Riggs, Riggs challenged Billie Jean to a match; he was beaten three set in a row, in front of a TV audience of 50 million viewers.[5]
  • "Golden Slam" was a term coined in 1988 after Steffi Graff won 4 Grand Slams followed by an Olympic gold medal.[7]
  • The longest tennis rally to occur during competetive play was between Vicki Nelson-Dunbar and Jean Hepner in 1984. The two women exchanged 643 strokes in a contest lasting 29 minutes.[7]
  • The tennis court that King Charles I built at Hampton Court palace in 1625 still exists today.[1]
  • Vere Thomas "St. Leger" Goold is the only Wimbledon finalist to also have been convicted of murder. Twenty-eight years after losing the finals at Wimbledon, Goold and his wife murdered a wealthy widow in order to avoid repaying money they had borrowed.[5]
  • The winner of the 1879 Wimbledon tournament was J. T. Hartley, a vicar; he was so certain that he wouldn't go very far past the first match that he failed to arrange for someone to cover his Sunday services.[5]
  • Serena Williams
    Williams is one of the all-time greats
  • Serena Williams has won 24 Grand Slams, the most for any man or woman since tennis became a sport open to professionals and amateurs alike.[8]
  • Eight years after surviving shipwreck on the Titanic, American Norris Williams won the gentlemen's double at Wimbledon. He is the only survivor of the Titanic to win at Wimbledon.[5]
  • In 2000, Goran Ivanisevic became the first player in history to lose at Wimbledon as a result of accidentally smashing all three of his rackets.[7]
  • In 1995, Tim Henman became the first player ever to be disqualified from Wimbledon after he accidentally hit a ball into a ball girl in a fit of frustration. Henman afterwards apologized to the ball girl and gave her a bouquet of flowers.[5]
  • In 2020, Novak Djokovic was disqualified from the US Open for hitting a ball in frustration that accidentally hit a line woman's neck. Djokovic apologized, both at the time and later in an online post.[3]
  • In tennis, both players start with a score of zero, which is called "love-all."[2]
  • Fun Tennis Facts INFOGRAPHIC
    Tennis Infographic Thumbnail

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