It is believed that tennis originated in the twelfth-century monastic cloisters of northern France where it was known as “jeu de paume” or “game of the palm”, since the ball was struck with the palm of the hand. The rackets first came to use in the XVI century.
The word “tennis” came into use in the middle of XII century from Old French, but it actually comes from the Anglo-Norman term “tenez” which means “hold!”, “receive!” or “take!”, which is what the server would tell his opponent to indicate that he’s about to serve.
The word “racket” derives from Arabic word “rakhat” which means the palm of the hand. “Deuce” comes from “à deux le jeu” which means "to both is the game".
The lawn tennis or modern game of tennis emerged in England during the XVIII and early XIX centuries, along with two other racquet sports – racquets and squash racquets.
This is probably why the oldest tennis tournament in the world is Wimbledon, first played in 1877. Wimbledon is also the only Grand Slam still played on grass.
The first person to win Olympic gold in tennis was John Pius Boland of Ireland, who had no intention of competing in Athens, where he was vacationing. He got signed up for the singles tennis by a friend who was in the committee, so he entered and won. He then entered doubles tennis with the player he beat in R1 earlier and they won that gold, too.
Henry Wilfred “Bunny” Austin was the first man who got tired of traditional tennis attire, so he went out and got himself a pair of shorts and then appeared wearing them at Wimbledon in 1932. Allegedly, Queen Mary was shocked.
When you think about it, this was the last thing the Queen saw from a British man in the Wimbledon final. 74 years passed before another British player reached it – it was Murray in 2012 – again, wearing shorts, but the Queen was probably more than happy this time.
Only two men completed Grand Slam (win all four Majors in a single year): Don Budge (1938), and Rod Laver, who did it twice (1962, 1969).
As for women’s singles players, only three did it: Maureen Connolly (1953), Margaret Court (1970) and Steffi Graf (1988).
Eight male players competed the Career Grand Slam (win each major tournament at least once): Fred Perry, Don Budge, Rod Laver, Roy Emerson, Andre Agassi, Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
Ten female players completed the Career Grand Slam: Maureen Connolly, Doris Hart, Shirley Fry, Margaret Court, Billie Jean King, Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Serena Williams and Maria Sharapova.
The only tennis player in history, both male and female to complete Golden Slam (or Calendar Golden Slam – win all four majors and Olympics) is Steffi Graf (1988). Only Bob and Mike Bryan managed to complete the Non-Calendar Golden Slam (within 12 months, but not in the same year) and they did it between 2012 Olympics and 2013 Wimbledon.
Career Golden Slam was achieved by 22 players in total, but only three when it comes to singles players: Andre Agassi (1999), Rafael Nadal (2010) and Serena Williams (2012). Serena is also the only player in history to archive both singles and doubles Career Golden Slam.
The record for most aces in men’s tennis on all surfaces holds Ivo Karlovic: 12,302. Second spot holds Roger Federer (10,216), third place belongs to Goran Ivanisevic (10,131), fourth to John Isner (9,602) and fifth to Andy Roddick (9,068). Current number one, Rafael Nadal, holds the 79th spot.
The shortest tennis match in tennis history lasted 18 minutes when Jack Harper defeated J. Sandiford 6-0, 6-0 at the 1946 Surrey Open Hard Court Championships. The second shortest tennis match in history of mere 20 minutes was played at Wimbledon in 1969 between Susan Tutt and Marion Bandy (Susan won 6-0, 6-0).
The shortest Grand Slam final in history, though, was when Steffi Graf crushed Natasha Zvereva in just 34 minutes (6-0, 6-0) to defend her title at the 1988 French Open. The win came so easily and quickly, that Graf even apologized to the crowd in her speech, and years later she said that she felt regret for not letting Zvereva win at least a game or two.
The longest tennis match was at 2010 Wimbledon. John Isner and Nicolas Mahut battled for 11 hours and 5 minutes over the course of three days.
The second longest match of 7 hours and 2 minutes was played at 2013 Davis Cup, between Team Czech Republic (Berdych & Rosol) and Team Switzerland (Wawrinka & Chiudinelly). The Czechs won 6–4, 5–7, 6–4, 6–7(3–7), 24–22.
The longest Grand Slam final match lasted 5 hours and 53 minutes when Novak Djokovic defeated Rafael Nadal at 2012 Australian Open. Both players nearly collapsed during the dignitaries’ speeches, but luckily someone remembered to bring them chairs before that happened!
In men’s tennis, the all-time record for most Grand Slam titles currently holds Roger Federer with 19. Second place belongs to Rafael Nadal (16), third to Pete Sampras (14), fourth to Roy Emerson and Novak Djokovic (12), and fifth to Rod Laver and Bjorn Borg (11).
In women’s tennis, the all-time record for most Grand Slam titles holds Margaret Court (24). Serena Williams is second in line with 23 (she holds the record when it comes to Open Era only), third place belongs to Steffi Graf (22), fourth to Helen Willis Moody (19) and fifth to Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova (18 each).
As for major titles in Open Era, the player with most Australian Open titles id Novak Djokovic (6), Nadal holds most French Open titles (10), Roger Federer won most Wimbledon (8) and he shares the top spot with Pete Sampras and Jimmy Connors when it comes to US Open (5).
In women’s Open Era tennis, most Australian Open titles belong to Serena Williams (7), most French Open to Chris Evert (7), most Wimbledon to Martina Navratilova (9) and most US Open to both Chris Ever and Serena Williams (6).
Aussie player Sam Groth holds the record for the fastest serve in men’s tennis. He sent the ball flying 263 km/h (163.4 mph) at the Busan Open Challenger Event in 2012. Second player belongs to Frenchman Albano Olivetti (257.5 km/h or 160 mph).
As for the women’s tennis, the record holds Sabine Lisicki of Germany who smacked the ball flying 210.8 km/h (131 mph) at 2014 Stanford Classic. Venus Williams holds the record for second fastest serve of 207.6 km/h (129 mph) she hit at 2007 US Open.
The player with most singles titles in Open Era is Martina Navratilova (167), while the second place belongs to Jimmy Connors (109). She also holds most doubles titles (177), with Mike Bryan holding the second spot with 116. She shares the first place with Leander Paes for most mixed doubles titles (10), and a record of 354 total career titles. The second player with most career titles is John McEnroe (156).
Women’s professional tennis began in 1926, but the series ended in 1927 and women didn’t compete as professionals until 1941, however, many players were involved with entertaining the troops during the WWII. Short-lived exhibition matches occurred again in 1947, but virtually there was no women’s professional tennis until 1967 when Billie Jean King, Ann Jones, Francoise Duerr and Rosies Casals were signed to join a tour of eight men for two years.
In 1970, women’s tennis players were offered $7,500 in prize money versus men’s $50,000 reward, which lead King and Casals to urge women to boycott. In 1973, US Open made history by being the first tournament to offer equal prize money to men and women. The prize money became equal for men and women in 2007 at Wimbledon.
In 1998 during the Australian Open, Venus and Serena Williams, who were 17 and 16 at the time, respectfully, declared that they would beat any man who is in the ATP 200 players. Venus was in the top 10 and Serena in the 20s. German player Karsten Braasch, ranked 203rd, accepted the challenge and defeated Venus in the first set 6-2 and Serena in the second 6-1. After the match was over he stated that he didn’t do his best at all, and that he played as if he was ranked 600th. He even got a few puffs of cigarette and a few gulps of beer during the changeovers.
The loudest grunt of 105db came from the “Scream Queen” Maria Sharapova during 2009 Wimbledon. Just for reference, a normal conversation is registered at between 60 and 70db, and her grunt was louder than a train (90db), motorcycle (100db), lawnmower, police whistle, busy city traffic or noisy factory machinery, and more like a pneumatic drill or an aeroplane landing. Spectators were really annoyed, but unable to press the ‘mute’ button, an advantage the folks watching the matches at home had.
Believe it or not, Anna Kournikova never won a single Professional Tournament in singles in her entire professional career. She did win 16 doubles titles though, including two Grand Slam titles after she partnered up with Martina Hingis at Australian Open in 1999 and 2002.
This is why poker players named Ace-King combination after her - it looks good, but almost never wins.
Rufus The Hawk is an important member of the Wimbledon family, as described. He’s been keeping the pigeons and other birds away from the venue for fifteen years, and it’s a job he inherited with honor from his predecessor, Hamish The Hawk. He’s official title is “Bird Scarer”, as it is stated on his security photocard pass.
He also starred in Stella Artois advertising series ‘Here’s to Perfection’ and their 360-view of flying above Wimbledon project.
BTW, he currently has over 10k followers on Twitter, so he’s quite famous.