Just when you think you know all there is to know about tennis, you dig a little deeper and a whole new tennis world is revealed. From clocks to kings we have you covered with the six craziest tennis facts that you won’t believe. Check them out below!
6. The Scoring System is Based on the Clock Face
The origins of the 15, 30, and 40 scores are believed to be medieval French. It is possible that a clock face was used on court, with a quarter move of the hand to indicate a score of 15, 30, and 45. When the hand moved to 60, the game was over. However, in order to ensure that the game could not be won by a one-point difference in players' scores, the idea of "deuce" was introduced. To make the score stay within the "60" ticks on the clock face, the 45 was changed to 40.
5. Tennis Balls Were White Until 1972
Broadcasting tennis in color brought the matches to life, but it made tracking the ball on screen difficult -- especially when it fell near the white courtlines. So the International Tennis Federation conducted a study that found that yellow tennis balls were easier for home viewers to see on their screens.
An official 1972 ITF rule change required that all regulation balls have a uniform surface and be white or yellow in color.
4. The World's Oldest Tennis Court is Still in Use Today
The Royal Tennis Court located at Hampton Court Palace, London is the world's oldest tennis court and it is still in use. Built between 1526 and 1529, it was Henry VIII's preferred venue to indulge his love of tennis. Legend has it that he was given the news of Queen Anne Boleyn's execution while he was playing tennis on the court. The game played on this court is slightly different from modern tennis, however - the sport is called 'real tennis', and is played indoors.
One of the first English guides to tennis in 1553 claimed that:
“...this game has been created for a good purpose, namely, to keep our bodies healthy, to make our young men stronger and more robust, chasing idleness, virtue’s mortal enemy, far from them and thus making them of a stronger and more excellent nature.”
3. Shortest Grand Slam Ever? 34 Minutes.
In the 1988 French Open final, Steffi Graf demolished Natasha Zvereva 6-0, 6-0 in a completely one-sided match that took all of 34 minutes to complete.
2. There’s a Pineapple on Top of the Wimbledon Trophy
There’s a pineapple on top of the Wimbledon trophy. The pineapple is meant to represent the tradition of English sailors putting pineapples on their gateposts when they returned from a long trip. Not sure how tennis became associated with long trips at sea, but nonetheless, look out for the pineapple in 2021.
1. Tennis Balls Killed a King
Scotland’s King James I was into playing an early version of tennis that included balls and racquets but not ball boys, which proved deadly.
King James kept losing balls in the sewage drain at the corner of the court he played on at Blackfriars Monastery. This made him furious, so he sealed up the drain to prevent lost tennis balls
But, A few days later, assassins broke into his palace. The king attempted to dodge the would-be assassins by going underneath the floorboards and into the drainage system with the intention of escaping via the tennis court exit. But instead of a bunch of tennis balls clogging up the sewer drain he was fleeing through, he ran into the newly sealed grate, and was subsequently caught and murdered.