82 Most Interesting Tennis Facts (Things You Want To Know)

Tennis is an incredibly interesting sport with a long and rich history, many rules, and many fans and players. Therefore, there is much to tell about this great sport.

In this article, you will find the 80 most interesting tennis facts found on the internet. This is the perfect article to increase your knowledge about tennis in a fun way.

1. Tennis used to be played with bare hands

Long before the lawn tennis that we know and play today became a thing, people played Jeu de Paume.

It was a French game that is similar to tennis today, except for the fact it used to be played with bare hands instead of a racket.

This Jeu de Paume, which means the game of the hand, eventually evolved into ‘royal tennis’ or ‘real tennis,’ which then became lawn tennis.

 2.  The fastest serve ever was over 163 mph (262 kmh)

Back in 2012, Sam Groth hit the fastest serve ever. This serve was 163.7 miles per hour or 263.4 kilometers per hour.

However, this serve is never officially recognized by the ATP.

The fastest serve recognized by the ATP was the serve of John Isner in 2016. This serve was as fast as 157.2 miles per hour, or 253 kilometers per hour.

 3. The quickest Grand Slam final was only 34 minutes

In 1988, the final of Roland Garros was not nearly as long as you would expect of a final.

In only 34 minutes, Steffi Graf beat her opponent Natasha Zvereva 6-0 6-0.

This was not the shortest tennis match ever, but it is the shortest Grand Slam final ever played.

 4. The loudest grunt ever was 109 decibels

Grunting, some players love it, and other players hate it. Maria Sharapova is a well-known grunter, but she is not the loudest.

The loudest grunt of 109 decibels was by Michelle Larcher de Brito.

One hundred nine decibels is louder than a small aircraft landing, an ambulance siren, or a lion’s roar.

(Click here to find out why tennis players grunt)

5. You can lose points simply by touching the ball

If your opponent hits a ball and you are confident it won’t stay between the lines, make sure you let it bounce before you touch it.

If the ball touches your clothes, shoes, or hand before it touches the ground, the point is for the opponent.

6. Tennis courts used to be shaped like an hourglass

In 1875 the rectangular court that we know nowadays was introduced.

Before this time, tennis courts were shaped like an hourglass.

7. The width of the court is not the same for singles and doubles

The tennis court is 78 feet (23.77 meters) long, but the width depends on the type of game.

For singles, the court is 27 feet (8.23 meters) wide. For doubles, the court is 36 feet (10.97 meters) wide.

8. The net is 3 feet high at the center, and 3 feet and 6 inches at the posts

The net needs to have set measurements so that no player will experience benefits or disadvantages due to small differences in measurements.

9. Wimbledon is the only Grand Slam that has taken place on only one surface

Wimbledon has been played on grass ever since the tournament’s first edition, and this has never changed.

10. US Open is the only Grand Slam that has been played on three different surfaces

Nowadays, the US Open takes place on hardcourt, but this wasn’t always the case.

It used to be played on grass at the beginning, then on clay from 1975 to 1978, and eventually on hardcourt.

11. The scoring system is said to be based on the clock

Although the origin of the scoring system in tennis is lost in time, it is commonly believed that it is based on the clock.

45 would be too long to say, so that is why it’s 15-30-40 instead of 15-30-45.

12. The longest tennis match ever played lasted for over 11 hours

With tennis, it’s about who wins three or five sets first. It doesn’t matter how long this takes.

In 2010 at Wimbledon, this resulted in a match between John Isner and Nicolas Mahut that lasted 11 hours and 5 minutes.

The final score was 6-4, 3-6, 6-7, 7-6, 70-68, and they played a total of 183 games.

13. Tennis balls used to be white

In 1986 at Wimbledon, yellow tennis balls were introduced to make the sport easier to follow for spectators.

14. You can win a Career Grand Slam

If a player manages to win all four Grand Slam tournaments in their career, they are said to have won a Career Grand Slam.

So far, there are eight men and ten women in singles who have completed a Career Grand Slam.

15. There are four Grand Slam tournaments

The four Grand Slams are US Open, Wimbledon, Australian Open, and Roland Garros. These four Grand Slam tournaments are the most important tournaments in tennis.

They take place in New York, London, Melbourne, and Paris.

16. The most Grand Slams a player has won in their career is 23

Serena Williams is currently the player with the most Grand Slam titles won. She managed to win a Grand Slam 23 times.

Serena Williams hitting a ball

 17. Björn Borg has the best win-loss ratio with 89.2%

Björn Borg is a name that pretty much every tennis lover has heard of. With a percentage of 89.2, he has a better win-loss ratio than anyone else.

Still, he is closely followed by Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Roger Federer.

18. Approximately 87 million people play tennis worldwide

Tennis is one of the most popular sports in the world. There are approximately 87 million players.

This means that about 1.17% of the world’s population plays tennis.

19. Rafael Nadal is the king of Roland Garros

Roland Garros is one of the four Grand Slam tournaments. It is played on clay, a surface that Rafael Nadal loves.

He has won this Grand Slam thirteen times, more than any other player has won any Grand Slam.

20. Tennis has been part of the Paralympic Games since 1992

Since 1992 players with a disability can compete for a gold medal as well at the Paralympic Games.

21. The name of tennis originates from the Anglo-Norman word tenez

Tenez means to take heed.

22. A racket is usually 27 inches (68.58 cm) long

There are also rackets available at other lengths, such as 27.5 inches (69.85 cm) or 29 inches (73.66 cm).

Rackets for children are usually between 21 and 26 inches (53.34 and 66.04 cm) long.

23. There are natural gut strings and synthetic strings

The strings in a tennis racket can be made from different types of materials.

The strings can be made of cow intestines, facilitating increased power.

Synthetic strings are often made of nylon, which is cheaper and more common among amateur players because of its all-round performance.

24. Tennis balls are made of vulcanized rubber and a felt coating

Tennis balls have to meet a couple of requirements as well.

The diameter of the ball has to be between 2.58 to 2.70 inches, which is 65.41 and 68.58 mm. There is a set weight range of 1.98 oz (56.0 grams) to 2.10 oz (59.4 grams).

25. All lines are between 1 and 2 inches (2.54 and 5.08 cm) in width

The only line that is allowed to exceed this width is the baseline. The baseline can be up to 4 inches (10.16 cm) wide.

Although in reality, the baseline is usually as wide as the other lines.

26. ATP and WTA tournaments require a ball change every nine games

Tennis balls can wear out quite quickly, which is why a ball change occurs every nine games.

The first ball change takes place after seven games since those balls are also used for the warm-up.

An exception is made at the beginning of a tiebreak. In this case, the ball change will wait until the second game of the next set.

27. Only in one situation you are allowed to move your racket over the net

In tennis, it is not allowed to hold your racket over the net, so it is on your opponent’s side of the court.

There is one exception, though. When your opponent hits a shot with so much effect, it bounces on your side but moves so far back that the second bounce would be on their own side.

This is the only situation in which you are allowed to hit the ball on your opponent’s side.

28. Open stance is the most common stance

There are several stances in tennis, such as the neutral stance and the closed stance.

The open stance is the most common. An open stance means the player stands parallel to the net and allows for plenty of torso rotation.

29. There are eight main shots in tennis

These eight shots are the serve, forehand, backhand, volley, half-volley, overhead smash, drop shot, and lob.

30. The French king Louis X is known as the first tennis player

King Louis X is known as the first tennis player ever because he is the first person from whom we have proof of playing tennis.

This is because he died shortly after a game of tennis, of which there is written evidence.

Although it is said he died of pneumonia after drinking wine to cool down from an intense game of tennis, historians question this and say it’s more likely someone poisoned his wine.

31. The US has the oldest nationwide tennis association in the world

The United States National Lawn Tennis Association is the oldest nationwide tennis association in the world.

The association was formed to clear up rules and organize tournaments.

32. Since 1924, there has been only one major rule change

There has been only one major change of rules since the ITF established the rules in 1924. In 1971, the tiebreak was first included in tennis. This happened at Wimbledon.

Before that, a tiebreak was not part of the official tennis rules yet.

33. A tweener is quite common in exhibition matches

A tweener is when a player hits the ball in between their legs. Several players try and execute this trick shot in exhibition matches, as it’s a real crowd-pleaser.

In actual matches, it is often used as a last resort.

34. The Arthur Ashe stadium is the biggest tennis stadium in the world

Not including multi-purpose arenas, the Arthur Ashe Stadium in New York is the biggest tennis stadium in the world.

This is where many US Open matches occur.

The stadium is named after the first tournament winner: Arthur Ashe. The stadium can hold over 23.000 people.

35. Rafael Nadal plays left-handed, while born right-handed

Rafael Nadal learned to play tennis with his left hand because it can cause a real inconvenience for right-handed players, which most players are.

It can be a little confusing if someone uses the other hand, making the side that would usually result in forehands now result in backhands and the other way around.

It also allows him to make the ball whirl so that it is difficult for right-handed players.

(Be sure to read this article to find out if you can change hands in tennis)

36. There has been a half clay, half grass exhibition match

Back in 2007, the ultimate exhibition match took place between Rafael Nadal, the king of clay, and Roger Federer, the king of grass.

The court for this match was made of clay for one side and grass for the other.

The players had to change shoes every time they changed sides. Eventually, Rafael Nadal ended up winning.

37. The hottest Australian Open ever was in 2007

Although playing in the cold or rain is no fun either, in 2007, the Australian Open reached temperatures that are no fun to play in either.

This Australian Open had temperatures up to 122 degrees Fahrenheit (50 degrees Celsius).

In comparison, the hottest day at Wimbledon ever was in 2015, when temperatures reached 98 degrees Fahrenheit (36.7 degrees Celsius).

Australian Open flags

38. Ivo Karlović has the most career aces

Ivo Karlović has hit a total of 13.728 aces in his career. John Isner has the second most aces with 13288 aces, and Roger Federer has the third most career aces with a total of 11452 aces.

39. The Williams sisters both made it big in tennis

Both Venus Williams and Serena Williams are big names in women’s tennis. Venus has seven Grand Slam titles (singles), and Serena has twenty-three Grand Slam titles (singles).

Besides that, they were the fifth pair ever to complete a Career Doubles Grand Slam, and they even managed to complete a Career Doubles Golden Slam.

40. There is a pineapple on top of the Wimbledon trophy

The exact reason for this is not known. But it is believed to be related to the status of fruit as a desirable product with a high class when Wimbledon was first hosted.

41. Tennis has been an Olympic sport since 1896

There was, however, a period in which tennis was not an Olympic sport anymore.

In 1924 the sport was no longer part of the Olympic Games, but this changed again in 1988.

The reason for this break is because of disagreements between the International Olympic Committee and the International Lawn Tennis Federation about when a player was considered to be a professional and when they were an amateur player.

42. The minimum number of strikes to win a set is twelve

If a player hits aces only when serving, and their opponent makes double faults at every point they are serving, a player could win by only hitting the ball twelve times.

This is obviously a very unrealistic scenario, but it’s fun to imagine.

43. A bagel in tennis does not refer to food

A bagel means the player has lost a set without winning any games, meaning the score of that set is six against zero.

44. The first winners of each Grand Slam lived in the country the Grand Slam took place

For the Australian Open, it was Rodney Heath. For the French Open, it was H. Briggs; for Wimbledon, it was Spencer Gore; and for the US Open, it was Richard Sears.

45. The United States have won the Davis Cup most often

The United States has won the Davis Cup 32 times and has been part of the finals 61 times. Their last win and final was in 2007.

46. The United States have won the Fed Cup most often

Like with the Davis Cup, the Fed Cup finals have been dominated by the United States.

They have won 18 times and participated in 30 finals.

Their last win was in 2017, and their last final was in 2018, where they got beaten by the Czech Republic.

47. The Czech Republic won every Fed Cup final they reached

They have participated in six finals, winning all of them. The years they won are 2011, 2012, 2014, 2015, 2016, and 2018.

48. About 350 million tennis balls are manufactured yearly

They get sold in pressurized containers, keeping their bounce and staying brand new until the container gets opened.

49. The open era started in 1968

The French Open was the first major tournament to go open. Open means that anyone can join, regardless of whether they are professionals or not.

To play, you have to be among the best, though.

You can enter through having a high ranking, qualifying yourself through matches, or getting a wild card.

50. Only a very small percentage of tennis balls gets recycled

Tennis balls don’t get recycled into new balls very often.

Over the past few years, there has been more awareness of the importance of recycling, so there is progress being made.

Examples of recycling projects are Project Green Ball, which has been converting tennis balls into floors, and the ABN AMRO World Tennis Tournament which has turned balls into shoes for the ball kids.

51. You can only win a set with a difference of two games

When you reach 5-5 in games, the first one to get six games does not win. They have to play until it’s 7-5.

If the score becomes 6-6, the person who gets to 7-6 first does not win. They have to play until 8-6, and so on.

The only exceptions for this are tiebreaks.

52. Tiebreaks were implemented starting in 1970

When the score in a set reaches 6-6, most tournaments nowadays have implemented the tiebreak. It is especially popular in amateur tennis.

A tiebreak is won by the player who reaches 7 points first, and the players take turns serving.

There must be at least a two-point difference in the tiebreak; otherwise, play will continue until it does.

53. All Grand Slams have their own rules for a tie after the final set

The US Open has a conventional tiebreak. The Australian Open does a tiebreak that doesn’t end at seven but at ten.

Wimbledon does a conventional tiebreak but only after the set has reached 12-12 in games. Roland Garros has no tiebreak and lets the players play until there is a winner.

54. The Burj Al Arab did have a tennis court on top of the building

There used to be a tennis court at the top of the Burj Al Arab. This tennis court was a pr-stunt back in 2005. The court reached a height of about 690 feet (210 meters).

Players Roger Federer and Andre Agassi played a match on this court.

View of the Burj Al Arab

55. There are special junior tennis balls

Nowadays, children don’t learn how to play tennis by immediately using standard tennis balls.

For children, there are special tennis balls; these bounce less and slower.

There are four balls before children start playing with traditional tennis balls. Those are foam, red, orange, and green dot balls.

It helps children with their hand-eye coordination and practicing the technique behind their strokes.

56. Of all Grand Slams, only the ball kids at the US Open are paid

The ball kids at the US Open get paid an hourly wage, but many of them cannot even be considered kids anymore.

People between the ages of 14 through 65 join the try-outs to get selected to be a ball kid.

Ball kids are usually between 12 and 17 years old at the other Grand Slams.

57. When a serve hits the net, the point is replayed

If a serve hits the net and then lands in the service box, the point is not considered faulty nor valid.

The point gets replayed without the server losing one of his service turns.

58. You can enter a Grand Slam as a lucky loser

For Grand Slams, the lucky loser gets randomly picked from the best performing qualifiers who did not manage to get into the tournament because they lost their qualifying match.

59. The split step is very important in tennis

A split step is when a receiving player makes a small jump the moment their opponent hits the ball.

Because of this split step, they are able to move in the direction of the ball quicker, and it keeps them alert.

60. There are different tennis balls for different surfaces

There are regular-duty balls made for soft clay courts and indoor courts. Extra-duty tennis balls are perfect for hard courts, especially outdoors.

Grass court balls are made for grass courts, obviously. Hi-altitude balls are made for altitudes of 4000 feet or higher. Normal balls aren’t fit for these heights.

61. Most tennis players have a minimum of two tennis rackets

It is not uncommon for players to need a second racket during practice or a match.

Sometimes the strings of a racket break because they need replacement or the way the ball is hit.

It would be a shame to be forced to forfeit a match, so having two rackets is not an unnecessary luxury.

62. Tennis rackets used to be made of wood

After wood, rackets were often made of steel, then, aluminum, and then carbon fiber composites.

Modern rackets are made of carbon fiber or fiberglass and metals such as titanium alloys or ceramics.

63. There are different grip sizes

Because you cannot play tennis without a racket, you must have a racket that you can hold relatively easily.

Not everyone has the same size hands, so there are different grip sizes for tennis rackets.

With the index finger test, you can check if your grip is the right size.

If you hold the racket with an eastern forehand grip, you should be able to put your index finger in between the palm and ring finger of the hand that is holding the racket.

64. Beginners usually have a lighter racket than professionals

Beginners usually have a light racket, while professionals opt for a heavier racket. A heavy racket means more power but less maneuverability.

Therefore, starting with a heavy racket is not smart, but it can be beneficial if you are better at the game.

The average weight of a tennis racket is 10.6 ounces, which is 300 grams.

65. 16/19 is the average string pattern of a tennis racket

16/19 means there are 16 main strings and 19 cross strings.

An open string pattern (16/18) is ideal for spin and power, whereas a closed string pattern (18/20) is ideal for control.

66. A player is allowed three unsuccessful challenges per set

Hawk-eye technology helps make the match fair. If a player calls for a challenge, a digital system checks if the ball was in or out.

Players can call a challenge when they disagree with an umpire’s call. They are allowed three unsuccessful challenges per set. Challenges cannot be carried into the new set.

Hawk Eye calling a ball out

67. Women used to wear full-length dresses while playing tennis

A long time ago, women used to play tennis in a full-length dress or skirt that reached the ground.

Nowadays, tennis clothing allows for more flexibility. Women still wear dresses and skirts, but they are way shorter.

68. The most-attended tennis match had 48.000 visitors

The match with the biggest live audience was between Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer at the Cape Town Stadium.

This match had about 48.000 visitors, making it the match with the biggest live audience ever.

The match was won by Federer and played to raise money for the Roger Federer Foundation, which helps poor children in Africa get an education.

69. There are special tennis gloves

Gloves are allowed in tennis, although not wearing gloves is more common. Tennis gloves are usually only worn on the hand that holds the racket.

The gloves are mainly worn for better grip and not necessarily for keeping hands warm.

70. Wheelchair tennis has its own professional tour

Wheelchair tennis is quite popular and even has its own professional tour.

This tour consists of over 160 tournaments worldwide and offers over 3 million dollars (2.6 million euros) in prize money.

71. The ball is allowed to bounce twice in wheelchair tennis

Tennis for non-disabled people and wheelchair tennis is pretty similar in rules.

The main difference is that in wheelchair tennis, the ball is allowed to bounce twice, but only the first bounce has to be in between the lines.

72. A tennis elbow is not always caused by tennis

When you experience pain at the outside of your elbow, you likely have a tennis elbow or lateral epicondylitis.

It is caused by overuse of the forearm muscles, which are close to the elbow joint.

These muscles get used in tennis a lot, hence the name tennis elbow, but it can also happen to people who do not play tennis.

73. The lines on a tennis court all have names

The line at the end, where the players serve, is called the baseline. The line on the edge of the box where a serve has to land is called the service line. The lines at the side of the court are called sidelines.

Tennis court line names

74. There are 489 thousand tennis courts in the world

According to the International Tennis Federation, there are about 489 thousand tennis courts worldwide, based on data from 195 countries.

75. Martina Hingis is the youngest Grand Slam winner

The Swiss tennis player was only sixteen years old when she won the Australian Open in 1997.

She also became the youngest WTA number one ever, and she spent 209 weeks in this position.

76. Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic have all won 20 Grand Slam titles

Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic are the three players in men’s tennis with the most Grand Slam titles won.

All three accounted for 20 Grand Slam titles, and who knows, there may be more to come.

77. Men play a different number of sets than women at Grand Slams

During Grand Slams, the men play best of 5 sets. Females play best of 3 sets, just like during all other matches and tournaments.

The men also play a best of 3 sets format during all other tournaments.

78. If you have no other choice, you can use basketball shoes for tennis

If you don’t have tennis shoes, you can wear some basketball shoes to play tennis. However, not all basketball shoes are suitable for this.

79. Rafael Nadal is one of the most muscular players

Tennis, in general, is not a sport for which you need to be very muscular. In fact, too much muscle can have a negative impact on tennis performance.

Of all the tennis players, Rafael Nadel is one of the most muscular.

80. Coaching is not allowed in tennis

Unlike many other sports, coaching is not allowed during tennis matches in most cases. During Grand Slams, coaching is not allowed for both men and women.

Only in women’s tennis is coaching allowed during some tournaments. In men’s tennis, it never is.

81. The oldest Grand Slam winner is 37 years old

Ken Rosewall is the oldest Grand Slam winner ever. He won the Australian Open in 1972, at which time he was 37 years, 2 months, and 1 day old.

82. Esther Vergeer is the best wheelchair tennis player ever

The Dutch Esther Vergeer is the best and most successful wheelchair tennis player ever. The former world No. 1 won 148 singles titles and 136 doubles titles. Of these, a whopping 48 were Grand Slam titles.

She managed to stay No. 1 for 642 weeks and managed to remain undefeated for 470 matches in a row!

Would You Like Some More Facts?

Are you also interested in facts about other sports? Then be sure to check out our article on surfing facts!

Brian Henderson

I am what you might call a true tennis fanatic. When I am not on the tennis court teaching or playing myself, I am probably writing an informative article about tennis. My goal is to get as many people as possible excited and informed about tennis.
Published: 
December 31, 2021
Published: December 31, 2021