Tennis is a sport that captivates the world a few times a year, with large tournaments such as Wimbledon and the French Open drawing millions of viewers.
It’s hard not to be glued to the screen when some players take to the court, even if you don’t play tennis yourself.
There’s the powerful Spaniard Rafael Nadal, the relentless Serbian Novak Djokovic, and then the player you support at every tournament, be it UK native Andy Murray back from injury, or someone else of that ilk.
In this guide, we’re going to break down some of the biggest tennis tournaments and best players, to get you ready for the big home tournament: Wimbledon.
Off the back of the French Open 2021, Novak Djokovic has plenty of momentum, so it remains to be seen whether some of the other hard hitters can knock him off the podium in the upcoming Grand Slams and ATP tournaments.
Specifically, there’s Wimbledon which started on 23rd June with qualifying matches for both the men’s and women’s brackets. But later in the year, there’s also the US Open, which will kick off in New York on the 30th of August.
Summer is one of the best seasons for tennis, so now’s a good a time as any to dive into the sport and refresh your memory as to why you like watching it.
Tennis tournaments coming up
There are many tennis tournaments in England and worldwide throughout the year, across several types of courts.
The tournaments take place in different countries and continents, so the ATP tour can be quite challenging for the players.
If you’ve been recently introduced to the sport or you’ve just taken it up to shake off your quarantine cabin fever, then here are some of the best tournaments to watch for the rest of the year:
One of the most iconic tournaments that many spectators have their eyes on is Wimbledon, which is the biggest grass-court tournament in the world.
Wimbledon is so much more than a tennis tournament, though, as it has become a cultural spectacle that often features British royalty and other esteemed guests.
The tournament has a storied history and continues to be the most prestigious and most-watched of all within the sport.
If you’re still struggling to comprehend the magnitude of the event, think along the lines of the World Cup or the Superbowl.
It’s an event that transcends the sport and draws millions of viewers every year.
Roehampton Tennis Tournament
The Roehampton Tennis Tournament 2021 isn’t a Grand Slam, but it’s a popular LTA British Tour competition.
It’s a London tennis tournament that takes place at the same time as Wimbledon, with qualifying matches starting on the 27th of June.
Of course this means you aren’t likely to see any of the big names in the tournament, but it does provide an affordable and accessible alternative if you’re in the area.
You could even take some time out on the days your favourite players aren’t on during Wimbledon and go watch some of the matches in the Roehampton tournament to support the LTA British Tour and maybe even cheer on an up and coming British player.
Battle of the Brits
The Battle of the Brits tennis 2021 is another British tennis tournament put on by the LTA, and this one starts on the 27th of July.
What’s most interesting about this tournament is that it’s a competition between British players to see who comes out on top.
The director of the tournament is none other than Jamie Murray, the seven-time Grand Slam doubles champion and brother of top British singles player Andy Murray.
If you’re a British native and you’re keen to watch and support the national tennis scene then this tournament provides an excellent opportunity to do so, fresh off the back of the excitement of Wimbledon.
The US Open is one of the most recognisable Grand Slam tournaments outside of Wimbledon.
The tournament is played on blue acrylic hard courts, which provides a different challenge for the players and a different spectacle for the viewers.
The tournament begins on the 30th of August later this year, so you won’t have too long to wait after Wimbledon finishes before you can get your next fix of Grand Slam action.
History of Wimbledon Championship
Wimbledon is hands-down one of the biggest sporting events there is.
It draws millions of viewers every year and there’s something so captivating about the silence before play, the strawberries and cream, and the celebrity guests each year.
It has gone from being a humble tennis tournament to the largest, and now appeals to people who aren’t even interested in the sport, such is its popularity.
The tournament is a Grand Slam, one of four major competitions that take place once a year. Yet unlike the others, the French, US, and Australian Opens, it is played on natural grass.
The very first Wimbledon tournament took place in 1877, but it wasn’t until 1884 that a women’s championship was added to the fold.
While traditionally the tournament has been played on uncovered outdoor courts, the year 2009 saw the introduction of the retractable roof for Centre Court which allowed the most high-profile matches to go ahead regardless of weather.
The best tennis players of all time
These days, whenever you hear the word ‘tennis’ the chances are you’ll think of one of maybe three of four players.
Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, or one of the Williams sisters.
Each of these players has dominated the sport to some extent at one point or another, and each has earned a reputation as one of the best tennis players of the modern era.
However, does this also make them among the best tennis players of all time?
While everyone will have their own opinion, we believe that there are some players who achieved greatness and are worthy of recognition to this day.
Some of the greats from times gone in the men’s bracket include Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras, while Martina Navratilova is one of the most outstanding female tennis players from years ago.
These days though there are many hungry new tennis stars in the making, as well as well-established pros that have asserted themselves on the ATP Tours and pulled off countless Grand Slam victories.
The modern stars include the likes of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic. On the women’s side, it’s hard to look beyond the Williams sisters due to their shared dominance. Serena Williams has enjoyed more success than her sister Venus, though.
All of these tennis pros have been lauded over the years for making the sport what it is today, and without them the profile of tennis may not be as big as it is.
These are the stars that young aspiring tennis players look up to and in some cases even idolise, such has been their impact on the sport.
It might be the end of an era soon though, with players like Federer and Murray, who have also been at the top of the game for a few years, heading towards the twilight of their playing careers.
The best tennis players in the UK
If you’re disheartened at the lack of British tennis players that are considered among the best of all time, you’re not alone.
For a nation that hosts the most prestigious tennis tournament worldwide, there haven’t been an awful lot of top tennis players to come out of the UK.
However, with that being said, there have been several players that have captured our hearts over the years and given us hope of Grand Slam gold.
Here are some of the best British tennis players, past and present:
In recent years, the name Andy Murray must have brought on groans and cheers of jubilation in equal measure.
The Scot can come across as dour in interviews, and hot-headed on the court launching into tirades at nobody in particular and criticizing himself constantly.
Yet when it comes to technical skills, he’s one of the best players the UK has ever produced.
Murray has three Grand Slams to his name, including two very emotional victories on home soil at Wimbledon, and one at the US Open back in 2012.
Tim Henman is the predecessor to Andy Murray, the British tennis player we all rooted for before the Scot came along.
Unfortunately, Henman never quite made it all the way and doesn’t have a Grand Slam win to his name. He did reach six Grand Slam semi-finals but always fell just short.
Yet he was a likable figure and has now become a hugely popular commentator.
One of Britain’s best current female tennis players and highest-ranked right now is Johanna Konta.
Konta doesn’t have a Grand Slam win under her belt as of yet, but her performances in the past merit a good run in one of the major tournaments.
Right now there are doubts over her participation in Wimbledon due to injury concerns.
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