Tennis Now by Jim Whitehouse
The Buzz About Tennis
Tennis is a thrilling and fascinating sport to both watch and play, garnering attention from enthusiasts worldwide with over a billion people watching or participating annually. The sport has been graced by legends such as Andre Agassi and Steffi Graf, to more recent superstars such as Novak Djokovic and Serena Williams. These players have been ambassadors for this great game, exemplifying the competitive spirit while performing athletic feats that you can do nothing but marvel at. No matter your age or background, tennis offers a level of excitement that everyone can enjoy, making it the true sport of a lifetime.
The Biggest Stages
Tennis offers some of the most captivating sports events annually, headed by the most recognizable tournament of them all: Wimbledon. Competition at Wimbledon began 140 years ago, at the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club, in London, England. This grass tournament is the oldest tennis tournament in the world, and draws the biggest viewership of any tennis tournament in the world, every July.
Wimbledon is one of four Grand Slam or major championships held in tennis each year. The other three are the Australian Open in mid-January, the French Open in late May through early June, and the US Open in late August through early September.
If a player manages to win all four of these major tournaments in the same year, they are crowned the Grand Slam Champion, although this is a very rare feat. The last player to win all four Grand Slams in the same calendar year in either men’s or women’s singles was Steffi Graf, back in 1988. Novak Djokovic recently completed the feat of winning four major championships in a row, from 2015 Wimbledon to the 2016 French Open, but no male competitor has accomplished the feat of winning all four majors in the same year since Rod Laver in 1969.
One of the most exciting parts of tennis is the storylines that come from some of its all-time greatest players. It’s easy to admire these gladiators who go to battle in a test of athleticism and wits, with no one to rely upon except themselves for success. Pete Sampras is considered one of the best players in the game’s history, spending six consecutive years atop the world rankings, and winning a total 14 Grand Slam titles. But the best player in the history of tennis has to be Roger Federer. The Swiss titan has won 18 Grand Slam titles over his career, a men’s record, and his time ranked as the world number one is an open-era record that will be hard to surpass.
On the women’s side, Steffi Graf has widely been recognized as one of the greatest to ever play. She achieved 22 Grand Slam titles over her career, and spent 377 consecutive weeks ranked as the number one player in the world. But the greatest to ever play women’s singles has to be Serena Williams. Williams recently broke her tie with Graf by earning her 23rd Grand Slam title at the 2017 Australian Open, and accomplished what has been dubbed the Serena Slam in 2002–2003, winning the French Open, Wimbledon, U.S. Open and Australian Open in order. Her serve has been the most dominant ever seen in the women’s game, and has been a spectacle to watch for many years.
One of the great parts about tennis is that anyone can join, and compete to be one of the best in the world. The logistics of becoming a ranked player are much easier than those of team sports, which allows you to start chasing the tennis dream immediately. You can start by joining the USTA and playing in local leagues and tournaments to build a base of matches, and transition into ATP Futures tournaments to gain a ranking and eventually break onto the ATP charts. There is no limit to how successful you can be in the world of tennis, with some dedication and hard work on the court.