Does tennis mean anything to you? First of all, you need two players, two rackets, a ball and a net... But it's much more than that! British heir to the French "jeu de paume", the first tennis tournament was held at Wimbledon in 1877. Since then, the little yellow ball has never failed to bring enthusiasm, both on the court and in the stands. If you haven't heard the racket's call yet, here are some good reasons to get hooked!
5 good reasons to get into tennis 🎾
#1 – An extremely popular sport
With more than one million members and nearly 4 million players, tennis is the most practiced individual sport in France. And while its popularity has slightly declined these recent years, the sport is set to make a strong comeback in 2022 by reaching the symbolic milestone of one million members.
And its popularity goes far beyond French borders! Since its birth in Europe nearly 150 years ago, tennis has crossed decades and borders to successfully establish itself globally. Each of the major tournaments - the famous Grand Slam and its little brothers, the Masters 1000 - is an event watched by millions of enthusiasts. The latest Rolex Paris Masters brought nearly 120,000 spectators to the Accor Arena, and more than 4.5 million spectators on screen in France alone.
#2 – A clever mix of speed and endurance
263km/h... Sounds like the speed of an HST, or a Formula 1? Think again! It's the fastest service ever measured on a tennis court, a record held by Sam Groth. The German player achieved this feat in 2012 during a tournament in South Korea.
If we told you that a match lasted more than 11 hours, you wouldn't believe us, would you? Yet that was the gigantic feat achieved by Nicolas Mahut and John Isner at Wimbledon in 2010, during what became the longest match in the history of tennis.
Together, these outstanding numbers reflect all the depth and complexity of the sport, a clever mix of intensity and endurance!
#3 - A physical and mental discipline
Endurance, power, precision: tennis calls for many physical qualities. Being a well-rounded sport, it also requires a great deal of self-control. Good footwork is not enough to beat your opponent: solid tactical strategy and unwavering focus are just as important!
Some might argue that half of a tennis match is played mentally. This would probably deny the physical performance of its athletes, but as the great former number 1 Justine Hénin herself said: "It's more in the head than in the racket". In the end, playing tennis is like playing chess and running a marathon at the same time!
#4 – A sport where every match is unique
That's what makes tennis so exciting. It's one of the few sports where you never really know when a match is going to end. Nothing is ever won beforehand, and nothing is ever lost until the match point.
Fans can all remember the feat achieved by an underdog, or the crazy comeback of a player who was two points away from losing the match - a painful setback experienced by Paul-Henri Mathieu against Mikhail Youzhny, which cost France the 2002 Davis Cup. Between suspense, self-improvement, and unexpected outcomes, one thing is for sure: it's always a great show with lots of emotion!
#5 – Legendary champions
Martina Hingis becoming world's number 1 at only 16 years old, Serena Williams' 27-year career at the highest level, the 14 French Open victories of Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic's 373 weeks as world's number 1... The history of tennis is built on the outstanding achievements of its athletes.
There are many sporting and human success stories that fascinate fans and draw the admiration of the general public, as shown by the collective emotion caused by the retirement of Roger Federer, considered one of the greatest sportsmen in history.
And since we always feel generous at the Accor Arena... Here's a 6th reason! Think of it as the icing on the cake. 👏🏼
🎁 #6 – A good example of gender equity
For once, women's tennis benefits from the same exposure and audience as the men's competition. From the Williams sisters to Steffi Graff, and to Maria Sharapova, great players have left their mark on the history of the sport, to the extent of shaping its technique.
This fair treatment is also reflected in the equal pay system implemented at the four Grand Slam tournaments (Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open). As a result, the only women in the top 100 highest-paid athletes across all sports are tennis players: two of them in 2021, Naomi Osaka and Serena Williams.
So... Game, set, match?