Tennis facts that will blow you away

Tennis is one of the most exciting sports to watch. Long rallies, loud grunts and the spectacle put on by the players is enough to have you on the edge of your seat from the first game.

The game that we today refer to as tennis is a direct descendant of what is known as Real Tennis. In the first few centuries in which Real Tennis was played, the ball was struck with the palm of the hand and the game was known as jeu de paume (game of the palm). In the 16th century racquets were introduced and the game was referred to as tennis.

There's a lot to love about tennis, and these interesting facts are sure to deepen your passion for the game. 

Grand Slams

Novak Djokovic Grand SlamImage source:

There are four Grand Slam tournaments in tennis – the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon and the US Open. When a player wins all four tournaments in the same year, they are said to have won a Grand Slam.

A player completes a career grand slam if they win each of the four Grand Slam tournaments at least once in their career. A player can also win a non-calendar Grand Slam which means that he/she won all four of the Grand Slam tournaments within a year, but not in the same year.

Only five tennis players in history have won what’s known as a career golden slam which involves winning each of the Grand Slam tournaments and the gold medal at the Olympic Games. Steffi Graf is the only tennis player in history to do so in the same year.

Longest tennis match ever played

John Isner and Nicolas Mahut longest tennis match everImage source:

On average, a tennis match lasts around three hours. The longest tennis match in history lasted an incredible 11 hours and 5 minutes and took place over three days. It was a first round, Men’s singles match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut at the 2010 Wimbledon. Eventually, Isner won the fifth set 70 to 68 finally ending a match in which each player served over 100 aces.

The longest point ever played

Andy MurrayImage source:

Generally, a point in tennis only lasts between 4 and 10 seconds. The longest point ever played in tennis took place between Jean Hepner and Vicki Nelson at the 1984 US Open. The ladies rallied for a total of 29 minutes and hit the ball over the net an astonishing 643 times.

Tons of strawberries are ordered for Wimbledon each year

Wimbledon strawberries
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Strawberries and Wimbledon go together like thunder and lightning. Nobody really knows why strawberries are the fruit of choice for the Grand Slam tournament, but it is likely that they were just in season at the time of the first ever tournament. What is fascinating is just how many strawberries are consumed during Wimbledon. At the 2018 tournament, some 34,000 kilograms of the tasty fruit were served. That’s 166,000 servings!

… But there is a pineapple on top of the Wimbledon trophy

Roger Federer wins WimbledonImage source:

You read that correctly. While strawberries might be the food of choice at Wimbledon, the trophy is topped with a pineapple. As with the strawberries, the reasoning behind the pineapple remains a mystery, but there are a couple of theories floating around. The most popular being that the pineapple was used as a symbol of honour, welcoming and celebration. Pineapples were almost impossible to grow in the UK and had to be imported, so being presented with one was seen as a great compliment.

Tennis balls used to be white

Roger Federer in actionImage source:

Tennis balls haven’t always been the fluorescent yellow we’re used to seeing today. Until the early 1970s, tennis balls used to be white or black depending on the surface of play. The rise of colour television instituted the change as people watching at home complained that they struggled to see the white ball on TV, especially as it got dirtier. In 1972, the International Tennis Federation authorised the yellow tennis balls we see today.

Maria Sharapova’s grunt is louder than an aircraft

Maria Sharapova in action
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You may have heard the famous “Quiet, please” call from the chair umpire when watching tennis. It is understandable when you think about how precise a tennis player needs to be, especially when serving. A sudden distraction could cost the player a point, which in turn could cost them the match.

Although the umpire calling for quiet is directed at the crowd, some players could do with a warning or two. Maria Sharapova is the first name that jumps to mind when you think of loud on-court shrieks. The Russian star’s grunt has been recorded at over 103 decibels which is about as loud as a small aircraft coming in to land.

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Published: 11/06/2018