The modern game of tennis originated in England in the 1890s, but the history of the game dates all the way back to 12th century France when players used the palm of their hand instead of a racket! Oh tennis, you’ve come so far.
Today, tennis is a racquet sport that is played individually or in doubles. Tennis is played on a court — grass, clay or hard surface. The point of the game is to hit the tennis ball over the net so that the opponent can’t return the ball. Points are awarded when one player isn’t able to get the ball back over the net.
Scoring tennis is a bit weird and wacky. Each match is made up of sets made up of games. That’s where the phrase ‘Game, Set, Match’ comes from! The score of each game goes from zero (called love), to 15, 30 and finally 40. If the game is tied 40-40, that’s called deuce, and players have to win two straight points (the first is called advantage) in order to win the game. Get full details on scoring here.
How is it organized?
Men play under the ATP (Association of Tennis Professional) and women play under the WTA (Women’s Tennis Association). Each league hosts tournaments throughout the world and throughout the year, but the most important are the ‘grand slam' events, also called majors, which are the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon and US Open. These events get the most media attention, have the highest payouts, attract the best players and offer the most ranking points (i.e. are the most important to becoming No. 1 in the world).
The most prominent of the majors is Wimbledon which is played in London, England every July. Wimbledon started more than 125 years ago and is played on a grass surface, which makes the game move a lot faster. Wimbledon also has a strict dress code where players must wear only white, a tradition dating back to the 1800s when players were concerned with inappropriate sweat stains showing on clothing. Yup, you read that right.
The best of the best
Although tennis might be old school at heart, it is the only mainstream sport that pays out women and men equal prize money in grand slam tournaments and, for the most part, gives males and females the same airtime on TV. The U.S. Open was the first of the majors to award equal prize money in 1973, while the oldest tennis tournament in the sport’s history, Wimbledon, didn’t reach that milestone until 2007.
Some of the best in the world on the women’s circuit include Romania’s Simona Halep, Japan’s Naomi Osaka, Australia’s Ashleigh Barty and our very own Canadian star Bianca Andreescu! However, the number one in our hearts is superstar American Serena Williams, who blew us away by climbing back into the Top 10 of the WTA rankings after being OOO while she was pregnant with her first baby, Alexis Olympia Ohanian Jr.
Prior to giving birth, Serena dominated the courts as the world record holder for the most Grand Slam wins across female singles and doubles play! You may also recall Serena absolutely slaying in Beyonce’s “Sorry” music video. And did we mention that she was pregnant when she won the Australian Open in 2017? Like WHAT!?
On the men’s side, being the best in the world continues to be a three-way battle between Switzerland’s Roger Federer, Spain’s Rafael Nadal and Serbia’s Novak Djokovic (pronounced JOKE-OH-VITCH). But Federer is often touted as the best male tennis player of all time with 20 Grand Slam titles. Off the court, he’s a total gentleman and remarkably has two sets of twins!
What about Canadians?
We have to give it up to our girl Bianca Andreescu, who took the tennis world (and our hearts) by storm in 2019. She became the first Canadian to win the Rogers Cup (a tournament held in Toronto and Montreal) since 1969 and then became the first Canadian EVER to win a grand slam, beating Serena Williams (!!!) in the U.S. Open final in September. This helped her skyrocket to a career-high ranking of No.4 in the world. Get. It. Girl.
On the men’s side, our best men’s competitor is Milos Raonic (pronounced RAU-NITCH), who’s highest career ranking was No. 3 in the world. Recently, he’s found himself in injury trouble and hasn’t been in top form. Also, look out for young stars Denis Shapovalov and Felix Auger-Aliassime who continue to impress.
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