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Useful Notes / Tennis

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"Game, set, match."

A gentleman's game.

Tennisnote  is a popular worldwide racket sport, originating as a racket-less game in France during the Middle Ages. In addition to the Bond One-Liner provided above, it is also the source for numerous sex jokes (Even when we're not scoring, we're in love!). It's regulated by the International Tennis Federation, with the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) responsible for the men's game and the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) for the ladies'. The most important tournaments in the sport are Wimbledon, the Australian Open, the French Open (also known as Roland Garros), and US Open; these are referred to as the Grand Slams, but winning all four is known as the Grand Slam. Each of these tournaments is held annually, spread throughout the year.


Tennis history is split into two main parts: Open Era and pre-Open Era. Pre-Open Era, the Grand Slam tournaments only allowed amateur players to compete. As of the Open Era, 1968 - present, tennis is a professional sport with prize money at all events. The advent of the Open Era also heralded standardized and reliable record keeping and consistent tournament rules.

Tennis is largely an individual and pair sport, but team events are not unheard of. The Davis Cup, Billie Jean King Cup, and Hopman Cup are team events (for men, women, and both) from different countries playing each other in a knockout tournament.



The basic game is easy to grasp: one player serves the ball, and they proceed to whack it back and forth over a netnote  until a player unsuccessfully returns the ball in a legal manner. This can happen if the player a) hits the ball into the net, b) hits the ball out of bounds, or c) fails to return the ball before it bounces more than once. Any of these errors will reward a point to the opposing player.

Players can also concede penalty points by repeatedly engaging in 'Unsportsmanlike Conduct'; offenses include verbal abuse direct at officials or players, smashing or damaging racquets or other equipment, deliberately hitting balls at the audience, distracting opponents, and taking too long to serve or change ends. Serious or repeat offenses, such as injuring someone, lead to disqualification, as seen in the 2012 final of Queens.

The game is notable for its ludicrous scoring system:

  • The first scoring level is the game. Unlike other sports, a score of zero is called "love" in tennis. From "love", you go to 15, 30, 40,note  then Game... unless both players are at 40, in which case one player must win by 2, necessitating 40:40note  > 40:Advantage > Game. This can lead to very extended games when neither player can string enough points together leading to 40:40 > 40:Ad > 40:40 > Ad:40 and on and on.note 
  • Sets, the second scoring layer, are groups of games, usually played until one player reaches 6 games; but as with games, they must win by a margin of 2. As this used to lead to very long sets, a tie-breaker game is now played when the score reaches 6-6. However, there is no tie-breaker in the final set of some events; until 2019, this applied to the Grand Slam championships apart from the US Open, so occasionally very long sets still occur (at Wimbledon in 2010, John Isner and Nicolas Mahut had a 5th set that lasted for over 8 freaking hours, finishing at 70-68).
  • Finally, matches are largely to sets as sets are to games, but are typically best-of-3 sets, or best-of-5 sets in some men's events.

Believe it or not, the scoring rules are actually even more complicated than this; there are special rules made for tiebreaker games (which is the only part of the scoring system that uses a simple 1,2,3,4,5 counting system); variations such as 'No Ad' scoring (playing a single decisive point when both players reach 40); a 'Championship Tiebreak' instead of a final set; and different combinations of all the above scoring systems. However, this basically captures how you keep score in tennis. Hell of a job.

Tennis matches are played in either singles or doubles matches. In singles matches, the slim side margins (known as the "doubles alley") of the court are considered out-of-bounds; in doubles, they're fair game, hence their name.


The tennis season is a lengthy one and consists of five major events:

  • Australian Open (late Jan - early Feb in Melbourne): The first major event and Grand Slam of the tennis season. It takes place on hard courts, the most modern and common type of court surfacenote . Used to be the red-headed stepchild of the Slams with many pros skipping it due to its distant location, original December schedule and low prize money (hence why tennis stars like Björn Borg and John McEnroe do not have an AO win to their names - they didn't even bother attending it most of the time), until around the 1990s when it gained equal footing with the other Slams. Also known for its swelteringly hot temperatures and its 2012 final which became the longest-ever Grand Slam final at nearly six hours. Since 1988 its main court has been in a retractable roofed arena, mitigating the weather issues somewhat, as other roofs have been added as well. Began its unique final set tiebreak rule in 2019, where a 6-6 final set is decided by whoever reaches 10 points first.
  • French Open (late May - early June in Paris): Also known as Roland Garros, it takes place on clay courts that favor defenders due to their slowness and high bounce giving players more time to reach the ball and return it in ways difficult for their opponent to hit. Because of this, it was historically considered to be the hardest Grand Slam to win with many great players' tactics being ill-suited for the clay surface and many French Open champions being clay-court specialists who performed poorly at other Slams, until more recent times. Also known for its raucous crowds who aren't shy about booing their unfavorites, which include 13-time champion Rafael Nadal.
  • Wimbledon (early July in London): The Grand Slam that most people think of first when tennis is mentioned. It uses grass courts that favor attackers due to their speed and low bounce giving players less time to return big serves and volleysnote  hit by their opponents, although the courts have been slowed down recently to encourage longer rallies. At least twenty complaints are printed every year about this "slowing-down". Also known for its all-white dress code, no matches on the middle Sunday of the two-week tournament, and rain showers delaying play, although a roof installed in 2009 on Centre Court has mitigated the latter (with plans for additional roofed courts in the works). Roger Federer, who has won a men's record of 8 trophies here, has been dubbed Wimbledon's "Favorite Son". Due to the tournament's tendency to be plagued by incredibly long 5-set matches such as the infamous Isner–Mahut match, the final set tiebreak was introduced in 2019, where 12-12 final set is decided by a first-to-7-points tiebreak.
  • US Open (late Aug - early Sept in New York City): The last Grand Slam of the season (but not the "true" end of the season), it has the highest attendance record of all Slams. Like the Australian Open, it's played on hard courts that fall somewhere in between the slowness of clay courts and the fastness of grass courts. Unlike the Australian Open, its main venue, Arthur Ashe Stadium, didn't have a roof until the 2016 Open, which meant that gusting winds and match-delaying rains frequently affected play. It is also the only Slam that decides a 6-6 final set by a tiebreak system instead of the "win by 2 games in the final set" rule, which (un)fortunately means that there's no chance of its matches becoming a 3-day epic like the aforementioned Isner–Mahut match.
  • WTA Finals and ATP Finals (late Oct for the women, mid-Nov for the men): The event that marks the true end of the tennis season. Ideally, it's supposed to determine the No. 1 player (or doubles team) with only the top eight players/teams in the world being pitted against each other in separate tournaments for the men and women. More often, what happens instead is that there's already a runaway No. 1 who doesn't even need to win the event to be the clear Player of the Year, and the fun of the year-end championships lie more in their unique round-robin format that lets people see their favorites play for at least three guaranteed matches in the opening roundsnote . Also worth watching for the dramatically-lit player entrances and the Confetti Drop during the trophy ceremony.

But Wait, There's More! In addition to the above events, tennis players are expected to participate in these tournaments:

  • Team tournaments (various dates/places): There are three tournaments in which teams of players compete for their country: the Billie Jean King Cupnote  for women, the Davis Cup for men, and the Hopman Cup for both. The Hopman Cup takes place in Dec-Jan in Australia and follows the same general "round-robin for the opening matches, knock-out for the semis and finals" format of the year-end championships, with every team playing matches against each of the other 3 teams in its group, except that they have to play each team not only once but thrice with a men's singles, women's singles, and mixed doubles match. The Billie Jean and Davis Cups, in contrast, follow a much more straightforward knock-out format but take almost the entire year and globe to complete with teams having to keep track of not only which country they're supposed to be traveling to next but also five matches over three daysnote  with their current opponent. The finals are both held in November, by which time everyone's so confused they can't remember who's playing whom.
  • Other tournaments (various dates/places): The smaller tournaments that don't get as much publicity as the Grand Slams but are still important to top-ranked players who are required to enter a certain number (but not all) of them, and lower-ranked players who can farm ranking points at low-profile tournaments higher-ranked players are unlikely to bother with. The tournaments usually serve as lead-ins to a Slam, such as the clay-court Madrid and Rome Masters that precede the French Open, and the US Open Series (but the three highest scorers on their points system get a Double Unlock of big money if they win the Open proper; needless to say that in 2013, both Serena Williams and Rafael Nadal broke the bank in this manner), or to ensure that the players never get a moment of rest even between Slams with even the lull period between the US Open and year-end championships being jam-packed with multiple Asian tournaments. The WTA has a season-ending championship, the WTA Elite Trophy, for the players immediately below the Finals qualifiers—an event without an ATP counterpart. It's held immediately before the WTA Finals to allow for the possibility of a player making both events (qualifying for the Elite Trophy on merit and making the Finals as an alternate). Unlike the Finals, 12 players/teams qualify for the Elite Trophy.

Suffice it to say that tennis players can consider themselves blessed if they don't get a single cramp or injury during their 10/11-month-long season. Professional tennis is no endeavour for the faint-hearted or weak-legged.


In 1973 a system to rank all professional tennis players was put in place, with separate ranking lists for men and women. The system is points-based and looks only at the last 52 weeks of the calendar.

Basically, players gain points for every match they play (even if they lose), with the number of points increasing the further they progress into a tournament. The amount of points at stake varies with the tournament, with the Grand Slams giving each winner 2000 points and the smaller tournaments awarding anywhere from 250 to 1000 points to the champion.

Only points accumulated in the last 52 weeks are included in the rankings, however, which means that for each yearly tournament the points earned by their players from last year are erased and replaced with their newest results. This means that a low-ranked player can shoot up several ranking spots with a single exceptional performance at a major tournament, but also that the same player can crash back down the ranking list if s/he fails to "defend" their points at the same tournament next year (assuming that their performances at all other tournaments are the same as last year's).

Rankings also determine the draws in tournaments through four different classifications:

  • Seeded: The highest-ranked players, who get the honor of a number by their name. Seeding differs from ranking as it only counts the players who have entered, which means that if the World No. 1 doesn't enter a tournament, then the No. 2 ranked player becomes the No. 1 seed and so on. The number of seeds depends on the size of the tournament and the seeds are spread out across the draw so that they only meet in later rounds, to prevent the top players from knocking out each other too early.
    • At tournaments apart from the Grand Slams, the ATP/WTA rankings are used for seeding purposes. The Slams are not required to use the world rankings, but generally do so. The Australian and French Opens strictly use the rankings, although the latter event has been criticized for not considering clay-court prowess (or lack thereof) in seeding. The US Open generally uses the rankings as well, but has made minor adjustments. For most of the early 21st century, the big exception was Wimbledon, which explicitly included recent grass-court results in its seeding formula for men (but not women) from 2002 to 2019; it switched to using the rankings in 2021.
  • Unseeded: Players not highly ranked enough for seeding, but still enough to get automatic entry. The amount of these players again depends on the size of the tournament.
  • Wildcard: Awarded to players who don't have a high enough ranking to gain automatic entry; usually ones who are young but have potential, are from the country the tournament is being held in, will sell a lot of tickets, or who used to be highly ranked but slipped down due to injury/maternity leave, etc.
  • Qualifiers: Players not ranked high enough for direct entry, and who can't gain wildcards. A pre-tournament mini-tournament is held beforehand to determine the qualifiers who will be placed in the main draw. Qualifiers and wildcards are usually pitted against seeded players early on and so it is highly unusual for them to progress very far.

Of course, the official rankings aren't the whole story and it's important to keep in mind that Grand Slams aren't the only events that matter points-wise (in spite of what news coverage of them might imply), which means that it's perfectly possible for a player to not win a single Slam and still finish the year as No. 1 if the Slam points were really spread out among other players and the player performed exceptionally well in all other tournaments. Or for a player to win two Grand Slams and still not be ranked No. 1 if they didn't make it very far in the other Slams and skipped a lot of smaller tournaments — whether these rankings are reliable and put enough emphasis on tournaments like the Slams is often debated. The Player of the Year awards given out at the end of the year are usually more indicative of the actual stand-out players in cases like these.

Notable Players

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    Current ATP Players 
  • Novak Djokovic (Serbia) 2003–present: Current No. 1, and became the ATP singles player with the most weeks at the top ranking in March 2021 (surpassing Federer's 310 weeks). Has secured his ATP-record seventh year-end No. 1 ranking in 2021, and has won 20 Grand Slams (including a record-breaking 9 Australian Open titles) and an Olympic bronze medal in singles. Also the first player to win all four men's singles Slams at least twice during the Open Era. Was constantly overshadowed by Federer and Nadal early on in his career despite being World No. 3, until he went on a spectacular 43-0 match winning streak in 2011. Is also known as "Djoker" for his sense of humor and impersonations of other players. In 2016, he became the first men's singles tennis player since Rod Laver in 1969 to win four consecutive Slams, also earning the career Slam in the process.
  • Roger Federer (Switzerland) 1998–present: Has held No. 1 for 310 weeks (holding the record for most weeks as ATP No. 1 until March 2021), and has been year-end No. 1 five times. Shares the Open Era ATP record of 20 Grand Slams with Djokovic and Rafael Nadal — he has a record 8 Wimbledon titles, is the only player to win three of the Slams at least 5 times, and also the only player to win two of the Slams 5 consecutive times. Also has an Olympic gold medal in men's doubles with Stan Wawrinka and a silver in singles. Is often cited as the greatest tennis player of all time. If one were to look up ATP singles tennis records on The Other Wiki, one would find his name on 90%. During his 2012 Wimbledon run he broke a record in every match he played after the second round. His return to the top of the rankings in February 2018 made him the oldest No. 1 at age 36, and is also the longest gap between No. 1 stints in ATP rankings history at 5 years and 106 days.
  • Andy Murray (UK) 2005–present: Has held No. 1 for 41 weeks, including one year-end No. 1, and won 3 Grand Slams. In his earlier years, he was constantly known as "the best tennis player to never win a Grand Slam" because he did well enough in Slams to reach four finals yet wasn't able to win any of them. However, Murray eventually became the first male Brit since Fred Perry in the 1930s to 1) win a major (the 2012 US Open) and 2) win Wimbledon (2013 and 2016), and he led Great Britain to a Davis Cup title in 2015 after a long drought (since Fred Perry's time). He's also won not only one Olympic silver medal in mixed doubles, but two back-to-back gold medals in singles, making him the first tennis player to win two singles gold medals in a row. Unfortunately, serious chronic hip problems plagued him following his 2016 success. He initially announced retirement plans for 2019; however he opted for a risky and potentially career-ending surgery on the ailing hip in January of that year, and eventually made his way back to the tour (claiming his first post-surgery singles title at Antwerp in October 2019).
  • Rafael Nadal (Spain) 2001–present: Has held No. 1 for 209 weeks, including five year-end No. 1 rankings. The span between his first and most recent year-end No. 1s (2008 to 2019) is the longest in ATP rankings history. Also holds the record for the most weeks at No. 2. He has won 20 Grand Slams. One of only four people to achieve a singles Career Golden Slam, which entails winning all four Grand Slam championships and the Olympic gold medal. Known as the "King of Clay", he has won 13 French Open championships — he's lost only three matches there, and is the first player to win 10+ titles at a grand slam in the Open era. He also has an Olympic gold medal in men's doubles with Marc López.
  • Juan Martín del Potro (Argentina) 2005–present: Has won 1 Grand Slam and two Olympic medals — bronze and silver — in singles. The only active player outside of the Big Fournote  to have won a Grand Slam from the 2005 French Open through the 2013 US Open. Following his breakthrough Slam victory at the 2009 US Open, he spent most of the next year out with a wrist injury and has been working his way back to Slam-threatening form ever since. The first of only two men (the second being Djokovic) to have beaten both Federer and Nadal in the same Grand Slam tournament. He has been nicknamed the "Tower of Tandil" because of his 6'6" (1.98 m) frame, and is also known as the "Gentle Giant" of the tour for his soft-spoken disposition and penchant for hugs.
  • Dominic Thiem (Austria) 2011-present: Has won 1 Grand Slam, and is the first 1990s-born male player to win a singles Slam. Thiem entered the Top 10 in June of 2016. He was widely considered a clay-court specialist until 2019, when he and new coach Nicolás Massú made a concerted effort to improve his tactics and subsequently produced the best season of his career: three hardcourt titles including Indian Wells, two clay titles, a second Roland Garros final, and a runner-up finish at the ATP Finals. Thiem was runner-up at Roland Garros in 2018 and 2019 and at the Australian Open in 2020 (losing to Nadal and Djokovic) prior to his 2020 US Open triumph. Thiem is the only Austrian to reach multiple major finals.
  • Stanislas "Stan" Wawrinka (Switzerland) 2002–present: Has won 3 Grand Slams, and teamed up with Federer to win Olympic gold in doubles in 2008. Was considered to be a mid-tier player for most of his career until he unexpectedly took Djokovic to 5 sets in the fourth round of the 2013 Australian Open and used that match as a launching pad to top 10 and Slam contender status. He's also the first non-Big 4 male player to win multiple Slams since Hewitt in 2001-02.

    Current WTA Players 
  • Victoria Azarenka (Belarus) 2003–present: Has held No. 1 for 51 weeks, including one year-end No. 1. Has won 2 singles Grand Slams and 2 mixed doubles. She won the first Olympic gold medal awarded for mixed doubles (at London 2012), also picking up a bronze medal in the singles. As well as her achievements, she is known for her distinctive "wail" on court. She began her maternity leave in 2016 for her first child and came back in the latter half of 2017.
  • Ashleigh "Ash" Barty (Australia) 2010–2014, 2016–present: Current world No. 1; has been in that position for 100 weeks and counting, including three year-end No. 1s (2019–2021). Has won 2 singles Grand Slams and 1 women's doubles. Her early career included an impressive three women's doubles Slams finals with Casey Dellacqua before turning 18, but was put on hold in 2014 so she could take a break from tennis and play professional cricket. She returned to the sport in 2016 and has been rising ever since, with her maiden singles Slam at the 2019 French Open and her 2021 Wimbledon win being among the highlights. She's also the second player of Indigenous Australian descent to have both won a Slam and become No. 1, after her mentor Evonne Goolagong Cawley. Known for using a lot of variety in her game, including a tricky slice backhand.
  • Simona Halep (Romania) 2006–present: Has been No. 1 for 64 weeks so far and year-end No. 1 twice. Has won 2 singles Grand Slams. She's the first female Romanian player to ascend the top of the rankings, and holds the longest active streak in the top 10 which she first entered in 2014. Is one of three womennote  to have gone 0-3 in Slam finals before going on to win their first one — in Halep's case in particular, she finally won Roland Garros on her third try in 2018. Known for her aggressive counterpunching and being one of the fastest movers on tour.
  • Angelique Kerber (Germany) 2003–present: Has held No. 1 for 34 weeks, with one year-end No. 1. Has won 3 Grand Slams and an Olympic silver medal in singles. She made her first breakthrough as a 2011 US Open semi-finalist at a mere world ranking of 92; however many of her biggest achievements came in 2016, where she was the first woman to win multiple singles grand slams in the same year other than Serena Williams since Justine Henin in 2007. She's also one of only two players to have beat Serena in a Slam final twice. A southpaw tennis player, she's known for her aggressive counterpunching.
  • Petra Kvitová (Czech Republic) 2006–present: Has won 2 Grand Slams, both of them at Wimbledon, and an Olympic bronze medal in singles. A shy southpaw who can hit the ball with bruising power and - much like Li Na - is unstoppable on her best day but beatable by anyone on her worst. She's also affectionately called "P3tra" by some fans for her penchant for getting into 3-setters regardless of her opponents' ranking. A shocking knife attack at home at the end of 2016 injured her left wrist, leaving her in hiatus until Roland Garros 2017.
  • Garbiñe Muguruza (Spain) 2011–present: Has held No. 1 for four weeks. Has won 2 Grand Slams. She's achieved the impressive feat of being the only player to beat both Williams sisters in Slam finals — Serena in the 2016 French Open final, and Venus in the 2017 Wimbledon final. Known for her powerful groundstrokes and high-risk attacking game.
  • Naomi Osaka (Japan) 2013–present: Has been No. 1 for 25 weeks and won 4 singles Grand Slams, and is the first player since Monica Seles to win her first four Slam finals. Although her talent did not go unnoticed beforehand, Osaka made a surprise breakthrough in 2018, highlighted by her maiden Slam at the US Open (beating her idol Serena Williams, no less). Her Australian Open win several months later rose her to World No. 1, making her the first Asian singles player to do so. While mostly raised in the US, Osaka was born in Japan to Japanese and Haitian parents, thus making her both the first Japanese and Haitian singles Slam winner and No. 1. Born in 1997, she is the youngest out of the active players to hold multiple Slams and the youngest No. 1 since Caroline Wozniacki in 2010. An aggressive baseliner with especially powerful serves and forehands (a contrast to her hilariously awkward and shy demeanour in interviews). She would, however, find a voice in 2020 as a social justice advocate, earning recognition as one of five "Activist Athletes" named by Sports Illustrated as its Sportspeople of the Year for 2020. Now also part of the ever-growing list of sportspeople who have invested in American soccer clubs, having purchased a stake in the North Carolina Courage of the National Women's Soccer League in 2021. She also had the honor of lighting the Olympic Flame at the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo.
  • Serena Williams (USA) 1995–present: Has held No. 1 for 319 weeks, and been year-end No. 1 five times. Has won an Open Era record 23 singles Grand Slams, as well as 13 doubles and 2 mixed doubles. She has achieved the Career Golden Slam in both singles and doubles (haer doubles partner being her sister Venus), winning the Olympic gold in doubles 3 times. Is also the only female tennis player to earn over $40 million, the oldest female No. 1 tennis player, and the oldest tennis player overall to win a singles Slam. She also has the WTA record for longest time span between her first and most recent year-end No. 1 (2003–2015), a year longer than Rafa's on the men's side. On top of that, while Serena is yet to win a calendar-year Grand Slam, she has held all four Grand Slam singles trophies at the same time twice. Needless to say, she is the other person frequently cited as the greatest tennis player of all time. Took a maternity leave between April 2017 and February 2018 — turned out she won the 2017 Australian Open while pregnant. Also one of the many, many co-owners of Angel City FC, a Los Angeles-based team that starts play in the NWSL in 2022.
  • Venus Williams (USA) 1994–present: Has held No. 1 for 11 weeks. Has won 7 singles Grand Slams, 13 doubles and 2 mixed. She has also won an Olympic gold medal in singles, a silver medal in mixed doubles and and 3 gold medals in women's doubles, completing the Career Golden Slam with her younger sister Serena. In singles, she and Serena have been pitted against each other nine times in Grand Slam finals, with Venus winning twice (making her the first of only two players to do so against Serena). In addition to their remarkable achievements, they are also distinctive for being the most successful Black players of any nationality, for either sex. Unsurprisingly, she and Serena are very vocal against the sexism and racism that still plagues tennis today.

    Retired ATP Players 
  • Andre Agassi (USA) 1986–2006: Held No. 1 for 101 weeks. Won 8 Grand Slams. One of four people to achieve the singles Career Golden Slam. Played until 36, holding the record for the oldest player ranked No. 1 (at 33) until being passed by Roger Federer in 2018. Known earlier in his career for his wild power off the ground, which gradually changed to a more measured, steady baseline attack in his later years. Also known earlier for his wacky outfits and long blonde wig and later for his bald head. He is the last American man to win either the Australian Open (2003) or the French Open (1999) singles titles. Current husband of Steffi Graf, former husband of Brooke Shields, and brother-in-law of late all-time great Ricardo "Pancho" Gonzales (see "Pre-ATP Men's Players").
  • Arthur Ashe (USA) 1969–1980: Won 3 Grand Slams. His highest career ranking under the official ATP rankings was No. 2, but he was accepted as the unofficial year-end No. 1 in 1975 by many non-computerized experts. He became the first African-American man to win a Grand Slam, his most memorable Slam victory being his stunning defeat of Jimmy Connors in the 1975 Wimbledon final through tactical play. In addition to his tennis achievements, he was well-known for his humanitarian and civil rights work in the United States and Africa. He was also notable as one of the early faces of AIDS, having caught HIV from a blood transfusion during heart surgery and eventually dying of AIDS in 1993. A humanitarian award and the main stadium at the US Open were named after him in his honor.
  • Boris Becker (West Germany/Germany) 1984–1999: Held No. 1 for 12 weeks. Won 6 Grand Slams and an Olympic doubles gold medal. Shot to fame as a 17-year-old in 1985 when he became the then-youngest male Grand Slam singles champion with his Wimbledon victory. This was also notable as he was unseeded and a surprise winner. He was known for his eccentric displays of emotion and for frequently diving and throwing himself across the court.
  • Björn Borg (Sweden) 1973–1983, 1991–1993: Held No. 1 for 109 weeks. Won 11 Grand Slams. Arch-rival of John McEnroe, he was nicknamed the Iceman because of his steely and cool demeanour on court, while his looks gained him a reputation as the first 'rockstar tennis player'. Borg won 6 titles at Roland Garros, surpassed only by Nadal, and his tireless baseline game was the model for clay-courters in the years to come. He was also noted for 5 consecutive Wimbledon titles, a record he watched Federer equal in spite of previously saying he never wanted it touched.
  • Bob and Mike Bryan (USA) 1998–2020:note  Also known as the Bryan Brothers, the identical twins were the No. 1 men's doubles team for practically the whole period from 2005 to early 2016, and hold virtually every record in the book for men's doubles teams. Their most notable team records are Grand Slam titles (16), tournaments won (119), most weeks at No. 1 (438, with Mike having the individual record at 506), and most year-end No. 1 rankings (10). They were named by ATP fans as their favorite team in the first 12 years that award was presented (2006–2017), and Mike got that honor with Jack Sock in 2018 while Bob was out injured. They have a career Golden Slam in doubles after winning Olympic gold in London in 2012, and their win at Wimbledon in 2013 made them the first men's doubles team in the Open era to hold all four Grand Slam titles at once. Finally, they are the only men's doubles team in history to win every major title in the sport—all four Grand Slam events, Olympic gold, every Masters 1000 event,note  the YEC, and Davis Cup. Even though age caught up with them near the end, they were still able to take down any other team on their day, as evidenced by two Masters 1000 wins in 2018 and one in 2019. Mike also won 2 more men's doubles Slams with the aforementioned Jack Sock. They announced in late 2019 that they would retire after the 2020 US Open, but with COVID-19 disrupting the 2020 season, they bowed out before that event started, having played (and won) their last tournament in March of that year.
  • Michael Chang (USA) 1988–2003: Won 1 Grand Slam. The American-born son of Taiwanese immigrants, he's the first ethnic Asian to win a major title (the 1989 French Open), doing so at the age of 17 as the youngest ever male Grand Slam champion. Chang was renowned for his frightening foot speed and retrieval ability, and was the first American to win a major in his generation, before being followed by Jim Courier, Pete Sampras, and Andre Agassi.
  • Jimmy Connors (USA) 1972–1996: Held No. 1 for 268 weeks. Won 8 Grand Slam singles titles and 2 doubles. The first of the notable players to emerge at the advent of the Open Era, Connors was a ferocious power baseliner whose heart and will were only matched by his pugnacious attitude towards others. Commendable for having played in three decades, with one of his most memorable moments being his run to the 1991 US Open semifinals at the age of 39. Over his long career he won a record 109 ATP singles titles.
  • Rod Laver (Australia) 1962–1979: Started playing before the advent of the Open Era and a reliable ranking system, but subjective rankings have him as the year-end No. 1 for 7 straight years from 1964 to 1970. Won 11 Grand Slams in singles, 6 in doubles and 3 in mixed, and a record total of 200 titles overall. Is the only player to complete the Calendar Year Grand Slam twice, the first one as a pre-Open Era amateur in 1962 and the second one as an Open Era professional in 1969. Needless to say, he's often included on the short list of the greatest tennis players ever. The arena that serves as center court for the Australian Open is named in his honor.
  • Lleyton Hewitt (Australia) 1998–2016: Was the youngest-ever world No. 1, which he held for 80 weeks, and won 2 singles Grand Slams and 1 doubles. After an explosive start to his career in which he set a number of "youngest ever" records, he was unable to keep up with his peers' rapid improvement. Throw in a number of injury-related lay-offs and a run in with Father Time, and old Rusty never regained his position at the top of the game after 2003, but his raw enthusiasm and never say die attitude kept him firmly in a crowd favourite spot until his retirement (he frequently turns up in doubles, however).
  • Ivan Lendl (Czechoslovakia/USA) 1978–1994: Held No. 1 for 270 weeks. Won 8 Grand Slams. Probably better regarded now then he was during his prime, Lendl took Connors' game plan and refined it, turning baseline tennis into a brutal slugfest and ushering in the era of the power baseliner. Was not popular due to the politics of the time; at the heart of the Cold War, the robotic and seemingly emotionless Lendl was easy to root against, as Connors and McEnroe can attest to. Known for his power off the ground and his tendency to drill the ball straight at volleyers instead of attempting a passing shot. Being Andy Murray's coach, they are the only two players in ATP history to lose their first four Slam finals.
  • John McEnroe (USA) 1978–1992: Held No. 1 for 170 weeks. Won 7 Grand Slam singles titles and 10 doubles. He was a devastating serve-and-volleyer, but is best remembered for his notorious temper, frequent misconduct and especially the Catchphrase "You cannot be serious!"note . He is the only player in the Open Era to be disqualified from a Grand Slam for Unsportsmanlike Conduct; the 1980 Australian Open, where one of his offences was staring at a line judge. Naturally he was quite a divisive figure, but is now more widely loved for his personality and continued passion for the sport. Regularly commentates on Grand Slam tournaments and is known to be creepily accurate in his predictions.
  • Daniel Nestor (Canada) 1991–2018: Born in the former Yugoslavia (today's Serbia) but raised from early childhood in Toronto, he never got higher than No. 58 in singles—but was one of the greatest doubles players in history. He was the No. 1 doubles player for a total of 108 weeks, sharing the top spot with three different partners and holding the top spot by himself three more times. The only thing that kept Nestor from equaling the Bryans' feat of winning every major title the sport had to offer was the Davis Cup; Canada never advanced past the semifinals during his career. Won 7 Slams plus an Olympic gold medal in 2000, and his 91 doubles titles place him behind only the Bryans on the ATP all-time list. Perhaps more remarkably, he won his 91 ATP titles with 11 different partners, and won his Slams with three different partners.
  • Andy Roddick (USA) 2000–2012: Held No. 1 for 13 weeks. Won 1 Grand Slam. Formerly held the record for the fastest serve, at 155 mph (250 km/h) before it was broken by Ivo Karlović, who fired a 157 mph (251 km/h) serve in Davis Cup. Known for his friendly rivalry with Roger Federer (it became a running joke that Roddick could not get through a press conference or interview without Federer being mentioned). Also famed for his snark-filled press conferences and occasional but impressive racquet smashes. His 2003 title at the US Open men's singles tournament is the last such title to be won by an American, and the last such Grand Slam altogether, marking the turning point where Europe and Asia would overtake the United States at the pinnacle of the sport.
  • Pete Sampras (USA) 1988–2002: Held No. 1 for 286 weeks. Won 14 Grand Slams. These were both records until Roger Federer stole his thunder. His six year-end No. 1s were also the most in the ATP era until Djokovic equaled that mark in 2020. However, all of Sampras' year-end No. 1s were consecutive, a feat that Djoker can't match. Widely regarded as one of the greatest grass-courters of all time, holding what used to be a record seven Wimbledon titles (until Federer won his 8th) and losing only one match there from 1993 to 2000. He is the only ATP player of the Open Era to retire as a defending Grand Slam champion, riding off into the sunset after one last US Open final versus his rival Agassi. Fittingly for a master of the grass court, he is also the very last American man to win the singles title at Wimbledon (2000).
  • The Woodies (Australia) 1988–2000: The doubles partnership of Todd Woodbridge (1988–2005) and Mark Woodforde (1984–2000), who held most of the ATP records for men's doubles until the Bryans (and Daniel Nestor) came along. They won 11 Grand Slam doubles titles, including a record 6 at Wimbledon, won 61 tournaments, and claimed Olympic gold in 1996 and silver in 2000. After Woodforde retired, Woodbridge won five more Slams partnering with Jonas Björkman. Both Woodies were also successful in mixed doubles, with Woodbridge winning six Slams with four partners and Woodforde five Slams with three partners.

    Retired WTA Players 
  • Jennifer Capriati (USA) 1990–2004: Held No. 1 for 17 weeks. Won 3 Grand Slams. Her fame comes from the rollercoaster nature of her career that began with her rocketing to stardom when she reached the French Open semifinals at just 14 years old and won the Olympic gold medal two years later, plunged with her struggles with depression and drugs, and ascended again with her inspiring tennis comeback at a more mature age until injuries forced her out of play. Her well-publicized troubles as a burnt-out teen prodigy also caused the Women's Tennis Association to pass the "Capriati Rule" limiting the number of tournaments players below the age of 18 could enter to prevent similar burnouts in the future.
  • Kim Clijsters (Belgium) 1997–2007, 2009–2012, 2020: Held No. 1 for 20 weeks. Has won 4 singles Grand Slams, 3 of them interestingly coming after her brief first retirement. The first Slam, the 2009 US Open, was just her third tournament since unretiring and made her the first US Open champion as a wildcard as well as the first mother to win a slam in the Open era since Evonne Goolagong Cawley in 1980. Was affectionately known as Aussie Kim by Australians due to her temporary engagement to Lleyton Hewitt (and she declared she finally earned the nickname after winning the Australian Open), and is universally liked for her warm personality. Came back after a much longer retirement in early 2020, playing in that year's US Open, but COVID-19 has so far kept this from being a longer-term comeback.
  • Margaret Court (Australia) 1960–1977: Won a record 24 Grand Slam singles titles, 19 Grand Slam women's doubles titles and a record 21 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. She achieved the Calendar Year Grand Slam once in singles and twice in mixed doubles, the Career Boxed Setnote  twice over and the Triple Crownnote  on five occasions. She also holds the record for the most Grand Slam titles as a mother.
  • Lindsay Davenport (USA) 1993–2008, 2010–2011: Despite being No. 1 for 98 weeks and year-end No. 1 four times, she's an example of Overshadowed by Awesome, seeing that her career at least partly overlapped those of Graf, Seles, Hingis, Henin, and the Williams sisters (not a complete list). Won 3 Grand Slams in both singles and women's doubles, as well as one YEC and an Olympic gold in singles at Atlanta in 1996. Perhaps the most physically imposing women's player of her era; she's a hair over 6'2", or 1.89 m—taller than all of the men's "Big Three" of the 2010s (Djokovic, Federer, and Nadal). Despite this, she mainly played a baseline-oriented game behind a strong serve and powerful groundstrokes, with a forehand that some other players of her era compared to Graf's.
  • Chris Evert (USA) 1972–1989: Held No. 1 for 260 weeks. Won 18 Grand Slams, including a record 7 at the French Open and a record 6 at the U.S. Open. Also won 2 doubles Grand Slams. She was the year-ending World No. 1 singles player in 1975, 1976, 1977, 1980, and 1981. Her career win-loss record in singles matches of 1,309-146 (.900) is the best of any professional player in tennis history. Known for her calm, steely demeanor on court, she was nicknamed the "Ice Maiden" of tennis.
  • Stefanie Marie "Steffi" Graf (West Germany/Germany) 1982–1999: Held No. 1 for a record 377 weeks, and also year-end No. 1 eight times, a record for either men or women. Mr. Agassi's lovely wife, she won 22 Grand Slams and achieved a Calendar Year Golden Slam in 1988; i.e., doing the Career Golden Slam in a single year. Is also the only player, male or female, to win every Slam at least four times. Nicknamed "Fräulein Forehand" by fans due to the power and accuracy of her signature shot.
  • Justine Henin (Belgium) 1999–2008, 2010–2011: Held No. 1 for 117 weeks, with three year-end No. 1s. Won 7 Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal in singles. She abruptly retired in mid-2008 when she was still ranked No. 1, only to unretire after her countrywoman Kim Clijsters made a successful comeback in 2009 until injuries and a lack of success caused her to retire again a year later. Is renowned for her clay-court prowess and vicious one-handed backhand, and is generally regarded as one of the few players who could challenge Serena Williams in her prime.
  • Martina Hingis (Switzerland) 1994–2003, 2005, 2006–2007, 2013–2017: Held No. 1 for 209 weeks, and year-end No. 1 three times. Won 5 singles Grand Slams, 13 doubles and 7 mixed doubles, and an Olympic silver medal in doubles with Timea Bacsinszky. The Swiss Missnote  is the youngest Grand Slam champion ever, winning her first doubles title at just 15 years old. She is also the youngest singles champion of the Open Era, winning the her maiden Slam the next year at 16. In 1998 she achieved the Calendar Year Grand Slam in doubles. She was plagued by injuries at a young age, causing repeated retirement-return tangos. Her third retirement was in 2007, shortly after she received a 2-year ban for testing positive for cocaine. During this retirement, she was a regular player in World Team Tennis and in July 2013, she returned to the WTA Tour in doubles and won her first Slam since 2002 with Leander Paes at the 2015 Australian Open. Hingis went on to win 10 of her doubles Slams since this return, announcing her fourth retirement during the 2017 WTA Finals after having swept the doubles titles at the US Open. This one finally stuck.
  • Billie Jean King (USA) 1968–1983: Won 12 Grand Slam singles titles, 16 Grand Slam women's doubles titles, and 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. She completed the Triple Crown three times. In 1973, she won the second (and possibly most famous) "Battle of the Sexes" (which was adapted into a movie in 2017), a three-set promotional match against former Wimbledon men's singles champion Bobby Riggs. Long an advocate for women's equality in sport and society, she was the founder of the Women's Tennis Association, the Women's Sports Foundation, and owner of World Team Tennis, which was founded by her former husband, Larry King and three others. The complex that hosts the US Open is named after her, and the Fed Cup (originally Federation Cup) was renamed after her in September 2020. Also one of the army of co-owners of the aforementioned Angel City FC.
  • Li Na (China) 1999–2014: Won 2 Grand Slams. Became the first player from an Asian country (male or female) to win a Slam when she won the 2011 French Open, and also won the 2014 Australian Open. Had a reputation for being able to hit anyone off the court on a good day and herself off the same court on a bad day, and also for giving some of the funniest interviews on tour. Retired in September 2014 due to persistent knee problems.
  • Martina Navratilova (Czech Republic/USA) 1974–1994, 1999–2006: Held No. 1 for 332 weeks, with seven year-end No. 1s, five of them consecutively (a record on the women's side). Won 18 Grand Slam singles titles, 31 Grand Slam women's doubles titles (an all-time record), and 10 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles. Completed the Career Boxed Set and achieved the Triple Crown once. She is the only man or woman to have won 8 different tournaments at least 7 times and won a record 9 Wimbledon titles. She also had an extraordinarily long-lived career, finishing in the top 10 singles rankings for 20 straight years and winning her last Grand Slam title (mixed doubles at the 2006 US Open) at 49 years of age. Originally from Czechoslovakia, she asked for political asylum in the US in 1975, was stripped of her Czech citizenship (later restored by the Czech Republic), and became a US citizen in 1981. She also came out as a lesbian in 1981 and has been an activist for gay rights, filing a lawsuit in 1992 against Amendment 2 (a Colorado ballot proposition designed to deny legal protections to gays and lesbians that was later overturned in Romer v. Evans).
  • Monica Seles (Yugoslavia/USA) 1988–1993, 1995–2003: Held No. 1 for 178 weeks. Won 9 Grand Slam singles titles. An incredible young woman who made the semifinals of her first Grand Slam tournament at the age of 14, before winning her first Slam two years later at Roland Garros. She won 7 Slams between 1990 and 1993, including an undefeated run at the Australian Open. Her career was tragically cut short in 1993 when she was stabbed in the back by a crazed Graf fan in Hamburg. She made a comeback in 1995 and went on to win the Australian Open the next year; however, she never regained her incredible form before the attack.note 
  • Maria Sharapova (Russia) 2001–2020: Held No. 1 for 21 weeks, and won 5 Grand Slams to achieve a Career Grand Slam and an Olympic silver medal in singles. She shot to fame by winning her maiden Slam at Wimbledon when she was just 17; ever since then, she recovered from shoulder injuries and her "cow on ice" issues on clay to become one of the steeliest (and loudest) competitors in tennis and an unexpected clay court master too. Unfortunately, her career hit a major snag in 2016 when she tested positive for the banned PED meldonium and was banned from the tour until 2017. Shortly after her return, her shoulder problems returned, and Sharapova spent most of her final seasons on tour battling said injuries before calling it a career in February 2020.
  • Caroline Wozniacki (Denmark) 2005–2020: Held No. 1 for 71 weeks and won one Grand Slam. Initially well-known for having some decent runs as No. 1 over 2010-12, including two year-end No. 1s, by winning many tournaments but the Grand Slams (although she made it to two US Open finals outside of that time). Her return to the top of the rankings 6 years later by winning the 2018 Australian Open was the longest gap between stints as the No. 1. Sadly, she would wind up battling illness (specifically rheumatoid arthritis) and injuries for the rest of 2018 and all of 2019, and decided to call it a career, with the 2020 Australian Open being her farewell.

    Pre-ATP Men's Players 
  • Don Budge (USA) 1932–1938 (amateur), 1938–1955 (pro). The first player, male or female, to win the Grand Slam, sweeping all four championships in 1938, and also winning two other amateur Slams in singles and four each in men's and mixed doubles. During his Grand Slam year of 1938, he also became the youngest male player to complete the career Slam, a distinction he still holds. Boasting a powerful serve and a one-handed backhand that even today is ranked among the greatest in history, Budge was the dominant force on the pre-WWII pro tours, winning four pro majors and getting the best of other greats (including a past-his-prime Bill Tilden, listed below) during exhibition tours. Subjective rankings tabbed him as year-end World #1 twice as an amateur and multiple times as a pro. However, a non-combat injury to his playing shoulder while serving in the Army during WWII permanently altered his career; while he remained strongly competitive, he was clearly never the same. After retiring, he became a coach and in-demand public speaker, living until 2000.
  • Ricardo "Pancho" Gonzales (USA) 1947–1949 (amateur), 1949–1974 (pro). The Los Angeles-born son of Mexican immigrants, he won two US Opens and two Grand Slam men's doubles titles as an amateur before becoming the most dominant player and biggest draw on the pro tours of the 1950s. Gonzales won 13 pro majors before the Open Era and was subjectively ranked as world pro #1 eight times between 1952 and 1960. The Open Era didn't start until shortly before his 40th birthday, but he was still a tough out for even the best players, notably beating Rod Laver in an exhibition match shortly after Laver had won his second Grand Slam, and also becoming the oldest player to win a pro tournament, doing so at age 44. During this period, he was also the winner of what had been the longest match in tennis history up to that time, an early-round 1969 Wimbledon match against the much younger Charlie Pasarell in which Gonzales came back from two sets down and saved seven match points to win 22–24, 1–6, 16–14, 6–3, 11–9. That match directly led to the introduction of the tiebreaker in most events. The last of his six wives is Andre Agassi's older sister; Andre paid for Gonzales' funeral in 1995.
  • Jack Kramer (USA) 1937–1947 (amateur), 1947–1954 (pro). The first world-class player to play what was called "The Big Game", now known as the serve-and-volley style. As an amateur, won 3 Slams in singles, 6 in doubles, and 1 in mixed doubles, and won 2 pro majors, also dominating the pro tours after ending his amateur career. Subjective rankings listed him as amateur year-end #1 once and pro year-end #1 six times. After his retirement due to an arthritic back in 1954, he became one of the most important figures in establishing the current Open Era. Kramer was the main promoter of pro tours from the mid-1950s to the advent of the Open Era, relentlessly advocated for the opening of the Grand Slam events to pros, and was co-founder and first executive director of the ATP. Passed away in 2008.
  • Fred Perry (Great Britain/USA) 1929–1936 (amateur), 1936–1956 (pro). Winner of 10 singles Slams, plus two in doubles and 4 in mixed doubles, and leading Britain to 4 Davis Cup titles, Perry was unquestionably the greatest British male player, at least until the arrival of Andy Murray decades later. He actually made his first impact in table tennis, winning the singles world championship in 1929 before switching his focus to the outdoor variety. Perry became the first player of either sex to claim the career Grand Slam in singles, and was subjectively ranked world amateur #1 from 1934 to 1936. From a working-class background and thus somewhat at odds with the upper-crust British tennis establishment, he was largely ostracized by said establishment from his turning pro in 1936 until the Open Era. Perry moved to the US upon turning pro, became a US citizen in 1939 (while retaining his British citizenship), and served with the US Army in WWII. He went on to a long career as a broadcaster, established the Fred Perry sportswear brand, still sold today (his family no longer runs that business, but remains involved), and lived to see a statue of him unveiled at Wimbledon before passing in 1995.
  • Bobby Riggs (USA) 1933–1941 (amateur), 1946–1959 (pro). Winner of 3 singles Slams, 1 doubles, and 2 mixed doubles as an amateur, and 3 pre-Open Era pro majors, and had at least a share of the subjective year-end #1 crown once as an amateur and twice as a pro. He was also the only man ever to win the Triple Crown at Wimbledon. In his 1979 autobiography, Jack Kramer (above) listed Riggs as one of the six greatest men's players ever, though he later placed Riggs in a slightly lower echelon of all-time greats. While noticeably smaller than most other men's greats (5'7"/1.70 m), he made up for it with speed, smarts, and ball control; he was especially noted for his lobs and drop shots. That said, Riggs is probably more famous among the current generation for his post-competitive career as a gambler and hustler. Most notably, he claimed in 1973 that no woman could beat him in a match, challenging Billie Jean King. She initially declined; Margaret Court accepted, and Riggs beat her in straight sets. King then accepted his challenge, and in one of the most famous exhibition matches in history, she beat him in straight sets. This match would be immortalized more than 40 years later in Battle of the Sexes, with Steve Carell playing Riggs. In a postscript, King and Riggs went on to become close friends, especially during Riggs' final battle with cancer; King recalled that when they had their last phone conversation on the night before his death in 1995, she told him "I love you."
  • Bill Tilden (USA) 1912–1931 (amateur), 1931–1946 (pro). One of the dominant figures of America's "Golden Age of Sports" in the 1920s, Tilden won 10 Grand Slam singles titles, 6 in doubles, and 5 in mixed doubles, as well as 3 major professional championships in the pre-Open era. Ranked by subjective sources as the world amateur year-end #1 six times, his amateur records compare favorably (at least numerically) to those of Open Era greats, and he became a global celebrity for many years. Even though he was past his prime by the time he turned pro, he was the biggest draw on the early pro circuits, and was still able to give his younger opponents a good test. Tilden's final years saw him mostly shunned after being jailed twice for sexual misconduct with teenage boys (that said, contemporaries said that he never propositioned other players, or boys whom he coached). Died in 1953.

    Pre-WTA Women's Players 
  • Maureen Connolly (USA) 1951–1954; later known by her married name of Maureen Connolly Brinker. Won 9 Grand Slam singles titles and 3 doubles. Also known as Little Mo, she was the first woman and only the second person to complete the Calendar Year Grand Slam in 1953. She lost only one set in these four tournaments, and never lost a Grand Slam singles final. Her tennis career was cut short at the age of 19 by a traffic accident that crushed her right leg, and she died from cancer in 1969 a few months before her 35th birthday.note 
  • Althea Gibson (USA) 1950–1958: Won 5 Grand Slam singles titles, 5 Grand Slam doubles titles, and 1 Mixed Doubles title. She was the first African American to win a Grand Slam when she won the French Championship in 1956, prior to the Open Era, and the first African-American woman to win a Slam prior to the Williams sisters. She won two Wimbledon titles in back-to-back years (1957-1958). She was the first woman to be awarded the NCAA's Theodore Roosevelt Award in 1991, inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame in 1980, and in 2012, nine years after her passing, had a statue built in her honor in Newark, New Jersey. Like Jackie Robinson is credited for breaking the color barrier in professional baseball, Gibson is see by many as the tennis player who broke the color barrier and made it possible for future people of color to compete in what was a prominently Caucasian sport. A lesser-known fact is that after retiring from competitive tennis, Gibson was the first African American to play on the LPGA tour in golf. Though her best tour finish was second place, Hall of Fame player Judy Rankin publicly said that she "might have been a real player of consequence had she started when she was young."
  • Suzanne Lenglen (France) 1913–1926: Won 8 Grand Slam singles titles (including 6 at Wimbledon), 8 Grand Slam doubles titles, and 5 Mixed Doubles titles, as well as Olympic medals in all three disciplines at Antwerp in 1920—golds in singles and mixed doubles, and bronze in women's doubles. Subjective rankings listed her as the world year-end No. 1 six times, and her amateur career singles record was a mind-blowing 332–7. That included a 179-match unbeaten streak from 1921–1926 which included a victory over American Helen Wills (below) in 1926 in what was billed as the "Match of the Century". A versatile all-court player, she was one of the first (if not the first) women to play in attire suited for sports, opting for knee-length skirts over the floor-length ones used by earlier players. More significantly, she was the first female athlete to become a celebrity outside her sport; in fact, her popularity was such that it led the All England Club, organizers of Wimbledon, to move to the site it occupies today so that it could handle the crowds at her matches. Due to a misunderstanding with the French Tennis Federation, Lenglen retired from amateur tennis in 1926, and became the centerpiece of the first-ever professional tours, barnstorming exhibitions first in the US and then in the UK. Those tours set the template for the men's exhibition tours that were the staple of the professional sport before the Open Era. After the UK tour ended in 1927, she never played competitively again, and her health sadly deteriorated in later years (by some reports, she was suffering from leukemia), culminating in her premature death at age 39 in 1938. Since 1987, the women's singles championship trophy at the French Open has borne her name.
  • Helen Wills (USA) 1922–1938; also known by her married names of Helen Wills Moody and Helen Wills Roark. Lenglen's successor as the top women's player was a baseliner known for her graceful playing style. Wills won 19 Grand Slam singles titles, 9 Grand Slam doubles titles, and 3 Mixed Doubles titles, as well as Olympic golds in singles and doubles in 1924. Subjective rankings listed her as the year-end world No. 1 nine times, and she had a 161-match unbeaten streak of her own from 1927–1933. Among her 19 singles Slams were eight Wimbledon wins, a record that wouldn't be surpassed until Martina Navratilova, and she was also the first player of either sex to win three Slams in a calendar year (1928). Despite her preference to stay out of the limelight, she was the first American female athlete to become a global celebrity. She enjoyed a long retirement, passing on New Year's Day in 1998 at age 92.


  • Academic Athlete: Many professional players leave organized education in order to focus on their careers, but others come up from the college circuits. It's also common for players to be multilingual, and a variety of independent interests are represented on the tour.
  • Artifact Title: The "Big Four" refers to the dominance of Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic in the ATP tour especially in grand slams (only three other men have won a singles grand slam since 2008); however, the title weakened in the mid-2010s as all four struggled with consistency and other players challenged them more often (chiefly Stan Wawrinka, who equalled Murray's three Slam titles and inspired the short-lived "Fab Five" moniker before losing form). Murray initially announced his retirement in early 2019 due to a chronic hip injury, and while surgery allowed him to return to singles, it is widely agreed that the "Big Four Era" has come to an end. The "Big Three" remains a common descriptor for Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic (Dominic Thiem's 2020 US Open win being the first non-Big Three win since the 2016 US Open), but their stranglehold on the rest of the tour has undeniably weakened.
  • Always Second Best:
    • Andy Murray has been the runner-up for no less than five Australian Open titles; he lost the 2010 final to Roger Federer, and all four of the others (2011, 2013, 2015, and 2016) to Novak Djokovic. The fifth defeat made him only the second man to lose five finals at the same Grand Slam tournament (the first being Ivan Lendl at the US Open), and the only one to do so without ever winning it.
    • Rafael Nadal owns the record for the most weeks as the No. 2 player in the world (the vast majority of which he has spent behind either Federer or Djokovic).
    • Three different men (Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, and Dominic Thiem) have contested multiple French Open finals against Rafael Nadal. All three have beaten Nadal at other clay events, but none of them has won more than a set against him at that stage of Roland Garros.note 
  • Big Game: The increasing emphasis on athleticism, endurance and long rallies in modern tennis has caused matches to become steadily longer and more physically grueling and records for "longest tennis X ever" to be broken with semi-regularity now: the 2012 Australian Open final between Djokovic and Nadal surpassed the former longest Grand Slam final ever by nearly an hour and left the world's two most athletic players so exhausted that chairs had to be brought in for them before the trophy presentation. In the Olympic Games later that year, the "longest 3-set match" record was broken twice in two days by Tsonga vs. Raonic and then Federer vs. del Potro.
  • Bookends: Pete Sampras's first (1990) and last (2002) Grand Slams were U.S. Open victories over Andre Agassi.
  • Breather Episode:
    • The Legends or Past Player tournaments held at some of the Opens, such as the Australian Open, feature popular retired players getting up to mischief in a shortened game. It's a great way to wind down if a tense game just played.
    • Although still a legit tournament, the rather small-scale Hopman Cup is more relaxed compared to the year-long and intense Billie Jean King and Davis Cups. Players aren't afraid to crack jokes and have a good laugh even midmatch.
    • Exhibition matches are frequently held for charity, and are a good way to warm players up in a more relaxed environment. Expect hilarity to ensue whenever participating players decide to humour everyone.
  • Broken Win/Loss Streak: Statistics are almost as extensive and detailed in tennis as they are in baseball; as such, when someone's streak is broken, you know about it.
    • Perhaps the most memetic instance of this is Vitas Gerulaitis breaking a streak of 16 straight losses to Jimmy Connors at the 1980 Masters. After the match, he famously declared, "Nobody beats Vitas Gerulaitis 17 times in a row."
    • Martina Navratilova had the longest-ever winning streak in the Open Era, racking up 74 consecutive wins in 1984 and winning 3 Grand Slams in a row. Helena Suková ended it in the Australian Open semifinals.note 
    • Roger Federer had a remarkable streak of 23 consecutive Grand Slam semifinal appearances dating back to the 2004 Wimbledon Championships that was finally broken by Robin Söderling in their 2010 French Open quarterfinal. His similar record streak of 35 Slam quarterfinals stretched from Wimbledon 2004 - French Open 2013, before it was broken in the second round of Wimbledon by Sergiy Stakhovsky.
    • Novak Djokovic went 43 matches in a row without being defeated over 2010-11 — this was broken by Federer in their French Open semifinal. He also went undefeated for 30 grand slam matches over 2015-16 — this was broken by Sam Querrey in Round 3 of Wimbledon.
    • Rafael Nadal's insane 46-match winning streak (and 8 consecutive titles won) at the Monte Carlo Masters was broken in the 2013 final by Djokovic.
    • Nadal won 17 straight matches and three titles (Monte Carlo, Barcelona, and Madrid) in the 2017 clay season before losing the Italian Open quarterfinal to Dominic "Prince of Clay" Thiem in straight sets. Starting at the French Open that year, Nadal then racked up a record streak of 50 consecutive sets on clay, which was snapped in the quarterfinals of the Madrid Open... by a straight-sets loss to Dominic Thiem.
    • The Big Three won eighteen consecutive majors between Roland Garros 2005 and Wimbledon 2009, a streak that was broken by Juan Martín del Potro's victory over Federer in the 2009 US Open final.
    • Dominic Thiem's victory in the 2020 US Open broke a streak of thirteen consecutive majors won by the Big Three, the second most dominant stretch in their history. The event was also the first since the 2004 edition of Roland Garros (that's 79 consecutive majors) to feature none of the Big Three in the semifinal lineup.
  • Brother–Sister Team: Marat Safin and Dinara Safina are the only brother and sister to both reach the No. 1 ranking in singles. They also physically teamed up for the mixed doubles at the 2009 Hopman Cup, achieving a runner-up finish.
  • Can't Catch Up: The plight of many an ATP player attempting to stand out in the Big Four/Big Three era of men's tennis. Even though the Living Legends have aged, they have continued to evolve their games to stay at the very top of the sport. Case in point: Only five men have won 4 or more singles Slams in the Open Era after turning 30. Three of these are the Big Three (Djokovic 8, Nadal 6, Federer 4).
  • Confusion Fu:
    • Junkballing, the art of mixing up shots and topspin to give opponents no rhythm to work with, has become vanishingly rare in the modern tennis era, but this can lead to players being completely unprepared to deal with opponents who do this because they can't get into a groove or predict their opponents' shots. Hsieh Su-wei is a prime example of how a good junkballer can confound even top players with her having defeated multiple World No. 1s like Simona Halep and Naomi Osaka.
    • This is the primary function of the underhand serve, famously used by Michael Chang when he suffered from debilitating cramps while playing Ivan Lendl at the 1989 French Open. While Chang resorted to the unconventional serve out of desperation (and only did so once in that match), some modern players (most notoriously Nick Kyrgios) have deliberately integrated the tactic in order to startle opponents and take advantage of deep return positions.
  • Cool vs. Awesome: Setting aside any match between two of the Big Four, there's also the 5-set Sampras–Federer match from the 2001 Wimbledon. It was an epic match between two men who have defined entire eras of the game's history, and it was the only time they ever faced each other in a Slam.
  • Crippling Overspecialization: Some players excel on one surface, but struggle to adapt their game to others. "Clay-court specialists" are the most common, often hailing from South America and Spain.
    • Nadal struggled with this near the beginning of his career; he was always a dominant force on clay, but his prowess on grass and faster hardcourts took years to develop.
    • Dominic Thiem was designated a clay specialist early in his career, and his absurdly packed schedule often led to exhaustion and poor results on grass and hardcourt in the second half of the season. He changed that narrative in 2019 by winning three hardcourt titles (his first Masters event at Indian Wells and two 500-level tournaments in Beijing and Vienna) and finishing runner-up at the ATP Finals after defeating Federer and Djokovic in the group stage. The following year, he picked up his first Slam title at the US Open... on hardcourts.
  • Crowd Chant: This generally happens between points and games, as quiet is required whilst the ball is in play. You are least likely to hear it at Wimbledon (sometimes known as the Cathedral of Tennis, it's so quiet) where tradition overrides raw enthusiasm - unless there's a home favourite or an Aussie in the later stages.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle: Any match won in straight sets with any combination of 6-0's to 6-3's are considered one-sided thrashings. In particular are two scores players dread being the receiving end of - the double bagel (6-0 6-0) and the double breadstick (6-1 6-1) (worst when it's the best of five sets in men's tennis and players get triple bagels or breadsticks). Natalia Zvereva was the receiving end of one such brutal match when she lost to Steffi Graf 6-0, 6-0 in 32 minutes in the 1988 French Open final.
  • Dark Horse Victory: Not even being one of the greatest top-ranked players guarantees the championship; there's been a variety of unexpected Grand Slam winners, usually due to their lower ranks, a lacking Slam performance history or an underwhelming head-to-head against their rival(s).
    • An early example is Richard Krajicek's 1996 victory at Wimbledon, winning decisive three-set victories in the quarterfinals, semifinals, and finals. It was the only time between 1993 and 2000 that the tournament was not won by Pete Sampras, who was unexpectedly trounced by Krajicek in the quarterfinals.
    • The women's 1994 Wimbledon championships was the only Wimbledon from 1991 to 1996 that was not won by Steffi Graf, who was upset in the first round by Lori McNeil in one of the biggest tennis upsets in history. The eventual winner was Conchita Martinez, who had been recognized as a good player likely to win a major in her career but thought to be a clay-courter far more likely to win the French Open than Wimbledon.
    • At the 2004 Olympic Games, virtually everyone expected world No. 1 Roger Federer to come away with singles gold. Instead, he suffered a shocking second-round upset to 18-year-old world No. 74 Tomáš Berdych. 10th seed Nicolás Massú became the only man in history to win singles and doubles gold at the same Olympics, and in doing so won the first two Olympic gold medals in Chile's history.
    • The 2008 Australian Open was the first Grand Slam since the same tournament in 2005 to feature neither Roger Federer nor Rafael Nadal in the final. Both were defeated in straight sets in the semifinals, resulting in a final between Novak Djokovic and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga. Djokovic won his first Slam as the 3rd seed, but he was still severely overshadowed by Federer and Nadal at the time.
    • The Big Four of Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray so thoroughly dominated the men's Grand Slams for such a long time that from the 2005 French Open to the 2013 US Open, Juan Martín del Potro was the only non-Big Four player to win a Slam and he did it by beating both Nadal and five-time defending champion Federer.
    • At the 2014 Australian Open, Stan Wawrinka (considered a mid-tier player at the time) became another unlikely Slam champion by beating both the three-time defending champion Djokovic and the then-No. 1 Nadal, whom he had never defeated in twelve prior attempts.
    • By far the biggest dark horse victory — and the most unexpected Slam finalists, to boot — in the Big Four era on the men's tour is Marin Čilić beating Kei Nishikori to win the 2014 US Open. To put this in perspective: the semifinals had World No. 1 Djokovic facing Nishikori, an injury-prone player who had battled through two consecutive five-setters just to make it to his first-ever Slam semifinal, and World No. 2 Federer facing Čilić, a player he had never lost to in five prior meetings and who had a reputation for folding against the top players. Virtually everyone expected another Djokovic-Federer final... which, needless to say, did not happen. It was the only Slam final from the 2005 French Open through the 2020 Australian Open to feature none of the Big Four.
    • After 13 consecutive Slams won by the Big Three, the 2020 US Open crowned the first new men's singles Slam champion in six years. Other champions either didn't playnote  or eventually exited the tournamentnote ; Djokovic was the last one standing and a strong favorite, but was defaulted in Round 4 due to an incident with a line judge. The final ended up being between Dominic Thiem (a three-time Slam finalist named in some title predictions but with inconsistent results) and Alexander Zverev (a rising star with a history of underperforming at Slams). Thiem claimed the trophy in a five-set marathon, becoming both the first men's Slam champion born in the '90s and the first in the Open era to win the US Open from a two-set deficit.
    • At Indian Wells 2019, Roger Federer cruised after Djokovic suffered a third-round upset and Nadal retired with a tendinitis flare. He entered the final as an overwhelming favorite... and lost it to Dominic Thiem, who had already established himself as a brilliant clay-courter, but was 3-4 on the season before the tournament and had never won a Masters 1000 title on any surface.
    • Serena Williams, the World No. 1 most of the time and having won an Open era record of 23 slams, has dominated the women's game since the late 1990s, with some other players having made their mark too. Despite that, unexpected winners have also come from the women's side:
      • In the women's 2011 US Open final, the two opponents were Serena Williams, who had breezed through the earlier rounds without dropping a single set, and Samantha Stosur who had never won a Slam before and had a reputation for choking under pressure. The winner? Stosur, in straight sets no less.
      • In the 2013 Wimbledon Championships, defending champion Serena Williams was considered to be such an overwhelming favorite that virtually everyone was coronating her before the tournament had even started. Everyone also agreed that if Serena did lose for some reason, either No. 2 Victoria Azarenka or No. 3 Maria Sharapova, her two closest rivals, would be the one lifting the trophy instead. The actual women's champion? Marion Bartoli, who entered the tournament as an all-but-invisible 15th seed and ended up winning the whole thing without dropping a set.
      • The 2015 US Open women's semifinal had Serena Williams (who won the last 4 Slams and was pursuing the Calendar Year Grand Slam) facing No. 43 Roberta Vinci and World No. 2 Simona Halep (French Open finalist last year) facing No. 26 Flavia Pennetta. Both of the underdogs made it to the final, with Flavia Pennetta being the one to emerge victorious in the all-Italian final.
      • At the 2016 Australian Open, everybody expected either Serena Williams or Victoria Azarenka (a former No. 1 who seemed to be rounding back into form) to win it. No one saw Angelique Kerber, who had never made a major final before and couldn't make it past the third round at any of her majors the previous year, winning it instead with an inspired performance. It was also the first time Serena had lost a major final since 2011. This kicked off Kerber's rise to a top player.
      • The expected gold medalist for women's singles in the 2016 Rio Olympics? Serena Williams, if not then any of the other top 5 seeds such as the World No. 2 and Australian Open champion Angelique Kerber. Actual gold medalist? The unseeded World No. 34 Monica Puig, who took down French Open champion Garbiñe Muguruza, Petra Kvitová and Kerber to do so - this made her the first ever athlete from Puerto Rico to win Olympic gold.
      • After Serena Williams' historic 23rd Slam at the 2017 Australian Open (her final tournament before maternity leave), dark horse victories dominated women's tennis at the Grand Slam level from the 2017 French Open through to the 2021 Slamsnote . Over 10 different women have won, with only Naomi Osaka, Simona Halep, and Ash Barty winning multiple, and many of them were maiden winners. The World No. 1 lost before the quarterfinals multiple times (Halep's 2018 Roland Garros and Barty's 2021 Wimbledon titles being the only victories by a top seed), many of the champions were outside of the Top 10, and at least one unseeded woman made the quarterfinals every time. Darkhorse finals have also often showed up, such as the 2021 French Open final which was played by the winner Barbora Krejčíková (a doubles specialist who was unseeded and won few Slam singles matches beforehand) and Anastasia Pavlyuchenkova (the No. 31 seeded veteran who was in her 52nd Slam and was previously unsuccessful in her seven other Slam quarterfinals).
    • British player Emma Raducanu completed arguably one of the greatest ever sporting achievements by winning the 2021 US Open women's singles championship at the age of 18. It was only her second ever grand slam appearance following Wimbledon 2021 where she retired in the fourth round. To put this in context, no other woman had previously won a major in the Open era before appearing in at least four (Monica Seles, 1990 French Open and Bianca Andreescu, 2019 US Open). Even more remarkably, Raducanu began the tournament as a qualifier and won the championship without dropping a single set (10 matches in total, 20 sets) or even being taken to a tie break. Raducanu is the first ever qualifier in tennis history to win a Grand slam, and the first British woman to win a major since Virginia Wade at Wimbledon in 1977. Raducanu's scalps included the Tokyo 2020 Olympic champion Belinda Bencic and the 17th seed Maria Sakkari. If all that isn't remarkable enough, the tournament runner-up - Canadian Leylah Fernandez - was a surprise finalist herself, knocking out former winners Naomi Osaka and Angelique Kerber, as well as top ten seeds Elina Svitolina and Aryna Sabalenka. Before the US Open, Raducanu and Fernandez were ranked 150th and 73rd in the world respectively.
  • Defeating the Undefeatable: Prior to the 2009 French Open, Robin Söderling had never made it past the third round of a Slam, and his fourth-round opponent in this particular Slam happened to be Rafael "King of Clay" Nadal who 1) was riding a record undefeated streak of 31 wins at the French Open, 2) had broken Roger Federer's own record streak of 237 weeks as World No. 1 just last year, and 3) had soundly beaten Söderling in all of their previous encounters. The result of the encounter? A four-set win for Söderling. To put things into perspective, Nadal has won more than a dozen titles at Roland Garros and lost just two other proper matches there (to Djokovic in 2015 and 2021note ), which is why many experts and former players say that beating Nadal at the French Open may be the single hardest ask in sports.
  • Dented Iron: Pro tennis is a punishing sport, and top-level players have, at most and if they're lucky, ten peak years before the accumulated physical wear and tear takes its toll. Examples of this include 2017 when virtually everyone at the top in the ATP Tour, including Novak Djokovic, Andy Murray, Milos Raonic, Kei Nishikori, Stan Wawrinka, Tomáš Berdych, Marin Čilić, Nick Kyrgios, and even Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal were all down with injuries at some point or the other, with the first six being forced to cut short their seasons and Nadal withdrawing near the end of the season. Juan Martín del Potro has especially had it bad, laying low for years with a wrist injury before beginning his climb again in 2016.
  • The Determinator: Emma Raducanu's dramatic 2021 US Open triumph came just a few months after she withdrew from Wimbledon in the fourth round due to breathing difficulties. This led to negative comments in the British media - notably from TV host Piers Morgan - that Raducanu was a quitter. She certainly answered her critics in style, becoming the first qualifier to win a major singles title. In the final against Leylah Fernandez while serving for the championship, Raducanu cut her leg while sliding across the court to attempt a return shot. Following a medical time out, the 18 year old returned to save a break point and win the tournament with an ace.
  • Down to the Last Play:
    • If a match goes to a final set (3rd or 5th depending on the tournament) the players are essentially starting from scratch; whoever takes the set takes the match. This is even more apparent in tournaments that employ the final set tiebreak. A single point on the opponent's serve will win you a match that may have lasted hours.
    • The race between Marat Safin and Gustavo Kuerten in 2000 for the year-end No. 1 ranking. Safin lost in the semifinals of the year-end championships, but had enough of a lead over Kuerten that Guga needed to win the championships to overtake him for No. 1 - and he had to beat both Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi to do it. No one had ever beaten both Sampras and Agassi in the same tournament before, but Kuerten amazingly managed to pull it off and snatch the No. 1 spot from under Safin's nose. It's the first of two times in the Open Era that the final No. 1 ranking was decided by the very last match of the year.
    • The second time the year-end No. 1 ranking was decided by the very last match of the year was the 2016 World Tour Finals between Andy Murray and Novak Djokovic. Murray had just recently overtaken Djokovic as the World No. 1, with not many points between the two which meant it was possible for Djokovic to get the ranking back if he did better than Murray. Fittingly enough, the two met in the final with the same number of matches won under their belts - and it was Murray who won and secured his No. 1 position.
    • If you want last play, try the Isner - Mahut match at the 2010 Wimbledon: it took them three days to finish their match. It technically took them 11 hours of total game time, and 8 of those hours were trying to win the last set (Isner won). They killed the scoreboard during the second day.
  • Dream Team:
    • Any time two superstars of the singles game play doubles together, which is most common in exhibition events but does happen at the tour level on occasion. One of the highlights of Wimbledon 2019 was the mixed doubles partnership of Serena Williams and Andy Murray, both living legends who won the singles titles there in 2016.
    • This is also one of the biggest draws of the Laver Cup, where both teams (Europe and World) are comprised of six top players (plus an alternate), and Team Europe has always featured two of the Big Three.
  • Elite Four: The "Big Four" (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray) finished five consecutive years (2008-2012) holding the top four rankings, and no one outside of that group held one of the top two spots from 2005 to March 15, 2021, when Daniil Medvedev passed Nadal for #2. note  Their historic dominance of the Grand Slams (63 major titles between them, fifteen years' worth) is the most famous achievement, but they have also won 12 of the last 16 year-end championships, 110 combined Masters 1000 titles, and singles gold medals at the last three Olympic Games. The challenge of getting past them to win a big title is compounded by the fact that they all have different styles of play, so even if a player happens to match up well against one of them, chances are they will have a harder time with one or more of the others. Dominic Thiem summed it up after his second consecutive runner-up finish to Nadal at Roland Garros, which was preceded by a five-set semifinal victory over Djokovic, "I beat yesterday one of the biggest legends of our game. And not even 24 hours later I have to step on court against another amazing legend of our game, against the best clay court player of all time. That also shows how difficult it is nowadays to win a Grand Slam."
  • Every Year They Fizzle Out: In tennis, mental strength is just as important to winning as physical strength and skill are and what most often causes losses by obviously talented players is choking under pressure, leading to accusations of this.
    • Many successful players found it difficult to handle the pressure of winning slams at first, making some Hilarious in Hindsight scenarios: both Ivan Lendl and Roger Federer were subject to speculation that they were talents who couldn't pull off the big wins; Andy Murray was infamous for losing his first couple of grand slam finals prior to winning his first major title in 2012; Stan Wawrinka initially had a lack of self-confidence combined with an aggressive high-risk high-reward playing style which led to many early-round Slam losses; both Caroline Wozniacki and Simona Halep had to go through many mental obstacles (such as the pressures of being slamless World No. 1s) before winning their first major titles.
    • Even after his first Australian Open title in 2008, Novak Djokovic had a reputation for retiring from matches and choking in big moments; many pundits predicted that he would end up as a one-slam wonder until his first dominant season in 2011.
    • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga is one of the very few people outside of the Big Four who has the raw talent to beat them, but he's just as likely to flame out against an inferior player as he is to pull off a Miracle Rally against one of the best players in the world, with his stunning upsets of Nadal at the 2008 Australian Open semifinals and Federer at the 2011 Wimbledon quarterfinals being followed by him quietly fading away from the world scene until his next sudden flash of brilliance.
    • Sabine Lisicki is a perennial quarterfinalist or better at Wimbledon and you can always count on her to take out a favourite or two (such as knocking out the French Open champion for four years straight) before losing to someone who should on paper pose far less of a challenge.
    • The "Lost Generation" is a fan nickname for a group of male players a little younger than the Big Four who are usually ranked in the Top Ten and are clearly dangerous but have yet to capitalise on the big moments they've had in Grand Slams, generally comprising the likes of Kei Nishikori, Milos Raonic, Grigor Dimitrov and David Goffin. All have pulled off big upsets and have at least made the Slam quarter-finals, with two having made the finals; but they've often struggled to follow up on these results by losing to lower-ranked players later on or quickly losing form, and aren't able to consistently challenge the Big Four enough.
    • When Nick Kyrgios defeated Rafael Nadal to make the 2014 Wimbledon quarterfinals at nineteen, he was heralded by many as the next great ATP champion. Kyrgios has since gone from one of the most promising young players to one of the most criticized, becoming better-known for his on-court behavior and off-court statements than his actual tennis results; he has made only one other Slam quarterfinal (at the 2015 Australian Open) and has never broken into the top ten.
    • While still relatively young players, Elina Svitolina and Alexander Zverev have come under criticism for being unable to make a single Slam semifinal in spite of being otherwise-consistent top 10 players who have won multiple Masters/Premier titles (including a year-end championship title for both) and beaten several top players outside of the Slams. Svitolina defied her history and reputation by making two Slam semifinals in 2019, and Zverev overcame a horrible start to 2020 by making his first semifinal at the Australian Open and first final at the US Open (though several previous Slam winners, including two of the Big Three, were missing at the latter).
  • Friendly Rival: Whilst the close nature of the pro tour means that all players have to be able to put up with each other on a day-to-day basis, there have only been a few genuinely close friendships between rivals.
    • Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova were the faces of women's tennis for much of the 1980s and formed a strong friendship in spite of meeting each other in 60 finals, with the two often having lunch together in the locker room and even traveling together to tournaments. They also played doubles together.
    • John McEnroe to this day enjoys a strong friendship with Björn Borg, made all the more remarkable by how many players he alienated and had problems with on court. The Laver Cup has brought this one back into the spotlight by appointing them as the captains of Team World and Team Europe.
    • Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal have experienced a much publicised bromance for the best part of a decade. They have reached the point of couple nicknames (Fedal) and Fan Fiction. The pair often inadvertently encourage such things in interviews and charity matches. Nadal's first response to 2017 US Open press conference questions asking about what he liked and admired about Federer was, "I don't want to look like I gonna be his boyfriend, no?"
    • Novak Djokovic and Andy Murray have known each other since the age of twelve and grew up on the junior tour together. In spite of experiencing some of the hardest fought Grand Slam matches against each other, they still find time to have dinner.
    • Novak Djokovic also has a warm friendship with Juan Martín del Potro, in spite of each of them being responsible for several heartbreaking losses of the other man (Djokovic beat del Potro in all of their Slam meetings, but del Potro beat Djokovic in both of their Olympics meetings). They've shown camaraderie to each other in the midst of their often-intense matches, including sharing a high-five at the net after del Potro won an epic rally during their 2019 Italian Open quarterfinal.
    • Stefanos Tsitsipas has established rivalries with several other young players, two of which (those against Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev) are notoriously unfriendly. In a pleasant departure from that trend, he and Dominic Thiem are great friends despite their intense battles on court and the resulting heartbreaks both have suffered.
    • Most of Thiem's rivalries (which range from the Big Three to the Next Gen) fall into this category, thanks to his humility and widely recognized good sportsmanship. His close friend and compatriot, Dennis Novak, joked in an interview that he wanted to hate Thiem for routinely flattening him in the juniors, but he couldn't because Thiem was too nice.
  • Fun with Acronyms: The year-end championships for the men were for a few years titled the ATP World Tour Finals (they're now simply the ATP Finals). Many a tennis fan had fun using its unfortunate acronym while talking about its oddities. There's also the frequent debate about which tennis player is the Greatest Of All Time.
  • Game-Breaking Injury: The rigors and physical demands of a packed year-long tennis schedule can cause this for unlucky players. In especially severe cases, the injury can become a career-ending one.
    • One of the biggest examples is Maureen Connolly Brinker, who won nine Grand Slams and became the first-ever female tennis player to win the calendar-year Grand Slam at just nineteen years of age in 1953 but suffered a severe right leg injury in a horseback riding accident the very next year that rendered her unable to play tennis.
    • Tracy Austin won her first Grand Slam title and ascended to the No. 1 spot when she was just sixteen years old, but chronic back injuries caused her to win only one more Slam in her career and a near-fatal car accident halted an attempted comeback from her.
    • Rafael Nadal has been forced out of play for a significant amount of time several times in his career by knee injuries, including a severe case of tendonitis that caused him to miss the entire second half of 2012. This did not stop him from winning two Slams and regaining the No. 1 ranking in the very next year... only for him to suffer a back injury, a wrist injury, AND appendicitis in the year after that. In 2016, he had a particularly bad wrist injury that forced him to withdraw from his beloved French Open and make him miss out on a good chunk of that year, including Wimbledon.
    • Juan Martín del Potro, after winning the 2009 US Open title, was widely heralded as a player who would go on to win multiple Grand Slams and become the next new World No. 1. Sadly, he fell victim to a severe wrist injury soon after and missed almost all of the 2010 season as a result and while he managed to recover from that injury it feels like every time he finally seems on the cusp of breaking back into the top 4 rankings or champion's circle, he gets derailed by yet another wrist injury. In a particularly cruel twist of fate, he slipped and fractured his kneecap at the 2018 Shanghai Masters, just after finishing as runner-up at the US Open and qualifying for the year-end finals. He would return in the 2019 clay-court season, but reinjured the knee in a grass tuneup event. The surgery he required prevented him from defending points at Wimbledon and the US Open, and later forced him to withdraw from the 2020 Australian Open.
    • Victoria Azarenka was the best female player in the world not named Serena Williams in 2012-13, winning two Grand Slams and holding the No. 1 ranking for 51 weeks. Unfortunately, injuries began plaguing her constantly after 2013, causing her to fall out of the Top 10 and despite having a few brief resurgences of form, had trouble staying in good health or form until her return to a Slam final in 2020.
    • Roger Federer had a knee injury that needed surgery in 2016, and although the reason behind it was hilariously mundanenote , it apparently did not recover well enough during his Wimbledon run (which saw him both win and lose dramatic five-setters at the quarter and semifinals) as he ended his season right afterward to continue recovering. This was not only his first major injury but also the first time he skipped out on Grand Slams.
    • The ATP 2017 season became notorious for taking out no less than five top players and ending their seasons early due to persistent injuries — Andy Murray, Novak Djokovic, Stan Wawrinka, Kei Nishikori, and Milos Raonic. Murray nearly retired due to aftereffects of the injury, and even after apparently successful surgery it's an open question as to how successfully he can come back.
    • Shortly after Caroline Wozniacki picked up her first Slam win and returned to No. 1 at the 2018 Australian Open, she developed rheumatoid arthritis, which eventually ended her career two years later.
    • In 2019, Bianca Andreescu became both the first wildcard to win the women's singles title at Indian Wells and the youngest to do so since 18-year-old Serena Williams in 1999. She aggravated a shoulder injury in the very next event, which would force her to retire from her second match at Roland Garros and miss Wimbledon entirely. She returned to the tour that summer and won both the Premier 5 event in Toronto and the US Open, making her the first player born in the 2000s to win a Grand Slam event, but suffered a major knee injury at the WTA Finals and didn't return until the 2021 Australian Open, going out in the second round.note 
  • Gotta Catch Them All: With the hundreds of different tournaments each year come billions of different combinations of winning. Some of these combinations are significant enough to have names. These include:
    • The Grand Slam (Career or Calendar Year edition): Winning each of the four Slams at least once (in a career or season, respectively). All victories must come in the same category: singles, doubles or mixed doubles. Some people also count the two-year Grand Slam (i.e. winning four consecutive Slams over a span of two years so that you hold all of them at one point), which is typically named after the player(s) such as the "Serena Slam" for Serena Williams in 2002–03 and 2014–15, the "Bryan Slam" for Bob and Mike Bryan in 2012–13, and the "Nole Slam" for Novak Djokovic in 2015-2016.
    • The Golden Slam (Career or Calendar Year edition): Winning each of the four Slams plus an Olympic gold medal at least once. All victories must come in the same category. Only achieved in calendar-year form by Steffi Graf in 1988. Also achieved in consecutive form by the Bryans, who completed the career version with gold in London in 2012, followed by the next four Grand Slam events (2012 US Open to 2013 Wimbledon).
    • The Super Slam: Winning each of the four Slams, plus an Olympic gold medal, plus the Year End Championships at least once. All victories must come in the same category. Has only been achieved in Career edition. Steffi Graf won all of the required events in a 12-month period, but it started with the 1987 YEC (Gabriela Sabatini won that event in 1988).
    • The Triple Crown: Winning the title in singles, doubles and mixed doubles at the same Slam in the same year. Before the Open Era, and in the early years of the Open Era, the finals of the three disciplines were held on different days, but in recent decades those finals often take place on the same day, and even at the same time, making this a Dead Horse Trope. No man has accomplished this feat since 1960; only three womennote  have done so in the Open Era, with Martina Navratilova being the last to do it at the 1987 US Open.
    • The Boxed Set: Winning the title in singles, doubles and mixed doubles at each of the four Slams at least once. Has only been achieved in Career edition, and by just three players.note 
    • The Dinner Set: Winning the title and finishing as runner-up at each of the four Slams at least oncenote . All victories must come in the same category. Can only be achieved in Career edition.
    • The Golden Masters: Winning each of the nine ATP Masters 1000 events at least once. Four men in all have completed the set—one in singles, one individual in doubles, and one doubles team. The first to do so is Daniel Nestor, who completed the set in doubles at Paris in 2009. The next are the Bryan brothers, who completed the set in 2014 at Shanghai. Novak Djokovic accomplished this feat in singles by winning his first Cincinnati Masters title in 2018 (following five runner-up finishes there), and would make it a double set by winning Cincinnatinote  again in 2020.
      • The women's equivalent would be winning all WTA Premier Mandatory and Premier 5 events at least once, though it would likely need a different name since the WTA doesn't use the word "Masters". That said, no one has won all of the Premier Mandatory events or all of the Premier 5 events, much less all nine.
  • Graceful Loser: Being gracious in defeat has become a trademark of the top tennis players, especially with regard to Federer and Nadal.
  • Grand Finale: The 2002 US Open. Pete Sampras won one last Slam against his rival Andre Agassi, bringing the era of tennis in The '90s to a close. After that tournament, Lleyton Hewitt, Andy Roddick, and Roger Federer dominated the game.
    • The 1999 French Open, the last Grand Slam Steffi Graf won shortly before her retirement, marked the end of a decade of her dominating the women's tour and the start of the Williams sisters and other rising players stepping in to take her place.
  • Heroic Self-Deprecation:
    • Andy Roddick is notorious for this type of humor, including a claim that he retired when he did in order to preserve his leading head-to-head record against Djokovic. Even his Hall of Fame induction speech was full of jokes at his own expense.
    • In the on-court interview following Caroline Wozniacki's final professional match, she joked that it was fitting that her finale was a three-set grinder that ended on a forehand error.
  • He's Back!: Any time a top-ranked player has to go on a break due to injury or otherwise and manages to go back to their winning ways afterward.
    • Andre Agassi, after losing to Pete Sampras in the 1995 US Open final, went into a tailspin for the next 2 years, his ranking falling as low as No. 141 in 1997 after a wrist injury. He had been in a relationship with Brooke Shields since 1993, with the two marrying in the year he got hurt. However, starting in 1998, he dedicated himself to rebuilding his game and improving his fitness, and despite a messy divorce from Shields in 1999, it paid off that year when he won the French Open final from 2 sets down to complete the Career Grand Slam. He would go on to win 4 more Slams before the end of his career. And enjoy a much better marriage with Steffi Graf.
    • Kim Clijsters initially retired despite having been World No. 1 and winning a Grand Slam, but decided to return to the WTA circuit after a two-year break (which included the birth of her daughter). Barely a few tournaments after her return she won the US Open as a wildcard and went on to win two more Slams as well as return to No. 1.
    • Juan Martín del Potro has been forced out of play multiple times by chronic wrist injuries and managed to come back to top 10 status just as many times. His most triumphant return came at the 2016 Rio Olympics where he entered ranked at only No. 141 but nonetheless went on a near-miraculous run to win the silver medal in tennis singles, defeating then-No. 1 Novak Djokovic and Rafael Nadal (also returning from injury then) along the way.
    • Roger Federer's 2017 season is marked by a remarkable resurgence. He won the Australian Open against Nadal and then won Wimbledon without dropping a set, with his lone Slam loss coming at the hands of a resurgent del Potro at the US Open. While he forwent the clay court season to preserve his longevity in the game, his grass and hardcourt results have shown that, despite nearing 40 and being one of the older high-ranking players, he's experiencing some of a later in life renaissance after a period of physical decline and diminishing returns.
    • Rafael Nadal had somewhat lacklustre results following his 2014 French Open and succumbed to health issues, including a wrist injury that affected most of his 2016 season. His following 2017 season saw him win two Slams (his 10th French Open and, his first hard court title since 2014, the US Open) and make the Australian Open final, along with a bunch of other clay court titles and a return to the No. 1 ranking.
    • Novak Djokovic, after being nigh-unbeatable during 2015 and the first half of 2016, unexpectedly fell victim to a combination of injuries, personal issues, and loss of motivation after finally winning the French Open, and went 2 years without another Slam title at the same time Federer and Nadal came back to dominance. Even after he finally came back to full health in 2018, he suffered a crushing loss to No. 71-ranked Marco Cecchinato at the French Open and said in a post-match press conference that he wasn’t sure if he’d even play the grass season. Then he won Wimbledon and the US Open, completed the "Golden Masters" in Cincinnati, ended the year at No.1 for the first time since 2015, and kicked off 2019 by crushing Nadal for his seventh Australian Open title (claiming the record for AO titles and becoming the first man in history to have a 3-slam streak more than twice). His rise from No. 22 in the world near the start of 2018 was the biggest jump to year-end No. 1 in history.
    • Petra Kvitová was attacked in her home by a robber with a knife that almost completely severed her fingers from her left playing hand at the end of 2016. It took several months for her to recover from the trauma and regain most of the feeling in her playing hand, but she was remarkably able to return to the top 10 in 2018 after winning five titles and also make her first Grand Slam final since 2014 at the 2019 Australian Open.
  • I Just Shot Marvin in the Face: While a ball going astray during gameplay and hitting a ball kid or line judge is forgivable, even unintentionally hurting one of them outside of gameplay and out of anger (such as recklessly throwing a racquet or hitting a spare ball in their direction) will lead to a default. Such incidents include Denis Shapovalov accidentally swatting a spare ball at the chair umpire in the left eye at a 2017 Davis Cup match, and Djokovic in a similar incident at Round 4 of the 2020 US Open but with a line judge's neck.
  • International Showdown by Proxy: It is rare to have a single country represented in the final, though in times gone by the USA had their fair share, so this comes through naturally, as well as in the events (Olympics, Davis Cup, Billie Jean Cup, Hopman Cup) where the players actually represent their countries.
  • Living Legend: Many retired stars are still actively involved in the game in some way or another, and some compete in the "Legends" tournaments held at the majors. Both the men's and women's tours prominently feature players universally agreed to be legends and future first-ballot Hall of Famers, most prominently the Williams sisters and the Big Four.
  • Manly Tears: Tears are a common sight after a Grand Slam final, due to the mental and emotional exhaustion players experience after such intensity. The tears actually are more likely to come from the winners (especially if the championship has a lot of significant meaning eg. their first Slam); it is considered bad form to cry over a loss because it dampens the celebrations for the champion. Male players/finalists crying after the match has become more embraced thanks to the declining toxic view that Men Don't Cry.
  • Miracle Rally: In general, any time a player comes back from a two sets-to-love (or one set-to-love and a break down in the second set, depending on the type of tournament) deficit to win. Bonus points if they also have to fight off match points to do it.
    • The Australian Open has a surprisingly high number of WTA champions who saved match points in the final or an earlier round: Jennifer Capriati in 2002note , Serena Williams in 2003note  and 2005note , Li Na in 2014note , Angelique Kerber in 2016note , Caroline Wozniacki in 2018note , and Naomi Osaka in 2021note .
    • Serena Williams is one of only two players in the Open Era who have won multiple Grand Slams after saving match points, and she's done it three times: as noted in the above bullet point, she saved multiple MPs in the 2003 and 2005 Australian Open semifinals before winning both finals, and her third great escape occurred in the 2009 Wimbledon semifinals where she saved a match point against Elena Dementieva and went on to beat her sister Venus in the final. She's also pulled off other comebacks that didn't require MPs to be saved but were still impressive, including rallying from a set and 0-4 down to Victoria Azarenka in the 2010 Australian Open quarterfinals.
    • Novak Djokovic, the only Open Era player other than Serena Williams to win multiple Slams after saving match points, has a particular knack for miracle rallies. The three most famous examples have involved Roger Federer holding two match points in the fifth set. Djokovic did it for the first time in the 2010 US Open semifinals (subsequently losing the final to Nadal), the second time in the 2011 US Open semifinals after also trailing Federer two sets to love (then defeating Nadal for the title), and for the third time in the 2019 Wimbledon final. The latter two occasions are especially notable in that the match points he had to save were all on Federer's legendary serve.
    • Roger Federer himself has been on the losing and winning side of miracle rallies in several Slam matches against other players, even putting aside Djokovic's three triumphs referenced above. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga became the first player ever to come back from two sets down against him in the 2011 Wimbledon quarterfinals, and Kevin Anderson pulled off the same feat in the 2018 Wimbledon quarterfinals. On the flip side, however, Federer himself came back from a two-set deficit and saved multiple match points against both Gaël Monfils in the 2014 US Open quarterfinals and Marin Čilić in the 2016 Wimbledon quarterfinals. At the 2019 Madrid Masters, he experienced both; after saving match points in a victory over Gaël Monfils in the third round, Federer squandered two of his own against Dominic Thiem to lose in the quarterfinals.
    • Andy Murray came back from a set down and saved five match points against Tommy Robredo in an ATP 2014 final. Twice. He would later beat this record in 2017 at Dubai, saving SEVEN match points against Philip Kohlschreiber in a tiebreak before eventually winning the whole tournament.
    • 1989 French Open: Ivan Lendl, the World No. 1 and one of the heavy favorites to win the event, had breezed through the competition so far and quickly built up a two-set lead against his fourth-round opponent, the 17-year-old Michael Chang. Chang, however, broke Lendl right back in the third set and proceeded to moonballnote  his way to victory in the final three sets, in spite of suffering severe leg cramps from the fourth set onward. At one key time in the match, Chang went so far as to serve underhand, which threw Lendl off enough for him to win the point. He went on to win the whole event.
    • 1995 French Open: In the third round, Jana Novotná had a 5-0 40-0 lead in the third set against Chanda Rubin — the biggest possible lead a tennis player can have in a set — only for Rubin to come back from that huge deficit to win, saving NINE match points along the way. Rubin said after the match that she had been inspired to keep fighting by the knowledge that Steffi Graf had come back from a similar third-set deficit against Novotná less than two years earlier in the 1993 Wimbledon final (where she trailed Novotná by 1-4 and then won the last 5 games).
    • 2004 French Open: Guillermo Coria was the overwhelming favorite against Gastón Gaudio — who was ranked a lowly No. 44 and had never made it past the fourth round of a Slam before — in the final, and the first two sets went according to script with Gaudio winning only 3 games in them. But then, in the third set, Gaudio started playing more freely and Coria became visibly agitated at the French Open crowd's vocal support for his opponent at around the same time he started to suffer leg cramping. Gaudio won the next two sets, then came back from 2-4 in the fifth set to win it all despite Coria serving for the match twice and having two match points in that set. To this day, this match is widely considered to be one of the most improbable comebacks and one of the most heartbreaking snatch-defeat-from-the-jaws-of-victory losses ever in tennis. Coria was crushed, and won just one more title (Umag, a 250-level event on clay) before retiring in 2009.
    • 2017 French Open: Simona Halep was a set and 5-1 down against Elina Svitolina in the quarterfinals, making her defeat seem inevitable. Miraculously, Halep was able to win five straight games — leaving Svitolina unable to serve for the match twice — and saved a match point in the second-set tiebreak. She ended up bageling Svitolina in the third set (6-0) to eventually reach the final once more.
    • 2017 US Open: Juan Martín del Potro was visibly ailing and on the verge of retiring in his fourth-round match against Dominic Thiem after winning only 3 games in the first 2 sets. Then del Potro unexpectedly broke Thiem in the third set, the crowd started rooting hard for him to get back into the match, and del Potro eventually won in 5 sets against all odds after saving 2 match points in the 4th set.
    • 2019 Australian Open: After a troubling start, Serena Williams regained control of her quarterfinal match against Karolína Plíšková and seemed to be breezing into the semifinals after gaining a 5-1 lead in the final set. Thanks to some very impressive tennis from Plíšková and an ill-timed ankle roll, Williams astonishingly was unable to convert any of her four match points nor serve out the match, and Plíšková held on to win the last set 7-5.
    • 2020 US Open:
      • With many former Slam winners on the men's side, including Federer and Nadal, absent and Djokovic being defaulted out in the fourth round, the draw was wide-open for new blood to emerge, and it ended up being Dominic Thiem and Alexander Zverev in the final. Thiem was the heavy favorite due to his form and three previous slam finals, but he started poorly compared to Zverev, who won the first two sets and broke Thiem early in the third for 2-1. Faced with the prospect of a straight-sets rout, Thiem finally raised his level and roared back to take the match to a fifth set. Zverev served for the match at 5–3 in the fifth, only to see Thiem break him twice and serve for it himself at 6-5. Zverev pulled off a brief rally of his own, breaking Thiem's serve in order to force a tiebreak to decide it all. Thiem capped off his rally by winning the tiebreak on his third match point despite severe leg cramps, becoming the fifth male player in the Open era to win a Slam final from two sets down and the only one to do so outside of Roland Garros (and also the first to win the US Open final from such a deficit since 1949).
      • Perhaps even more miraculous was World No. 32 Borna Ćorić's third-round comeback against No. 6 Stefanos Tsitsipas. Tsitsipas had not dropped a set or even had his serve broken in his first two matches, and the contest appeared over when he led two sets to one and 5-1 in the fourth set. Ćorić would win seven consecutive games, surviving two match points on his own serve at 5-3 and four more when Tsitsipas served at 5-4 and 40:0. Tsitsipas also broke Ćorić early in the fifth set but was immediately broken back and would lose in a fifth-set tiebreak.
  • My Greatest Second Chance: Any time a "lucky loser" (a player who loses in qualifying but gets a spot in the main event due to a withdrawal) goes on to win a tournament, as 15-year-old Coco Gauff did to win her first title in 2019.
  • One-Hit Wonder: There are several players who have won only one Grand Slam, referred to as "one-Slam wonders". These range from well known and highly ranked players, such as Juan Martín del Potro and Andy Roddick, to true one-hit wonders like Gastón Gaudio who made it past the fourth round of a Slam only once in his career.
  • Ordered to Cheat: Occasionally the subject of match fixing has been brought up, such as at the 2008 Australian Open, but there has never been a proven case in major tournaments.
  • Overshadowed by Awesome:
    • Throughout history, two or three champions have risen way above the competition in each generation, such as Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova in the 1980s, Steffi Graf in the late 1980s and early 1990s, Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi in the 1990s, Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal in the 2000s, and Serena Williams any time she plays.
    • The men's game in the late 2000s to 2010s has been dominated by a group of four players (Federer, Nadal, Djokovic, and Murray) who finished in the top four ranking spots for 5 consecutive years and have won over 60 Grand Slams between them. Younger players are challenging them with increasing success, but they're extraordinarily tough Threshold Guardians in any tournament draw. No one outside of the quartet has held the No. 1 ranking in over sixteen years since Federer claimed it in February 2004—and when Daniil Medvedev passed Nadal for No. 2 in March 2021, he became the first outside of the quartet to reach that ranking since July 2005 note .
    • Even amongst the Big Four, the otherwise highly-acknowledged Andy Murray is known to have the colossal misfortune to be playing in an era where not one, not two, but three of his peers (Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, and Novak Djokovic) are contenders for the "Greatest of All Time" label. While Murray's career achievements alone are remarkable — 3 Grand Slams, 11 Slam finals, 2 Olympic gold medals, a year-end championship, 14 Masters 1000 titles, 41 weeks at World No. 1, a pile of "first British men's tennis player to [X] since the 1930s" records — these achievements look a lot less impressive compared to Federer, Nadal, and Djokovic, each of whom has won 20 Grand Slams, made over 20 Slam finals, and spent over two hundred weeks at World No. 1. Most people (Andre Agassi included) agree that if Murray had played in almost any other era, he would have been the dominant player of that era.
    • On the doubles side, the Bryan brothers and the Williams sisters (whenever they decided to enter the doubles, anyway) were incredibly dominant from the 2000s until the 2010s and hold many doubles records. More teams have swept the Slams since then, with the Bryans understandably waning from age (and retiring in 2020) and the Williams sisters focusing more on their singles careers.
    • From 1998 till 2013, participating in the women's wheelchair tournaments wasn't funny for everybody not named Esther Vergeer. She retired in 2013 at the age of 31 after remaining undefeated for 470 (!!!) consecutive singles matches. Her last defeat was 10 years prior. This means that in this period she won every tournament she participated in, among others the Paralympic Games and the Grand Slam tournaments (and it's not like she was not winning before that defeat). Also in doubles she was very successful. Eventually, she posted a staggering record of 700 - 25 in singles and 448 - 35 in doubles. She gained the respect of among others Roger Federer and Johan Cruyff. She is arguably one of the most dominant forces in the history of sports.
  • Paralysis by Analysis: In a sport this mentally grueling, occasional "choking" is inevitable.
    • A near-literal example in the 2020 US Open men's final for Dominic Thiem, who cramped so severely in the fifth-set tiebreak that he could barely walk. In his post-victory press conference, Thiem said he hadn't experienced cramps like that in years and that the episode was triggered almost entirely by nerves.
    • See Miracle Rally for more examples; while nearly all of those matches featured a victor who raised their level to turn the scoreline around, they were often let back into the match by the opponent's nervy play while in the lead.
  • Passing the Torch:
    • In 2001, 7-time Wimbledon champion Pete Sampras faced 19-year-old Roger Federer in the 4th round. In Federer's Center Court debut, he became the only man to defeat Sampras over five sets at Wimbledon. It took another two years for Federer to win the title himself, but that single meeting between two generational icons of the sport is frequently cited as a "changing of the guard."
    • The first round of the 2011 Erste Bank Open in Vienna featured a clash between two Austrian wildcards: 44-year-old former World No. 1 Thomas Muster and 18-year-old rising star Dominic Thiem. Thiem's victory was his first at the ATP Tour level; he has since gone on to win Vienna (a title that eluded Muster during his career), become a Top 5 player, and win a Slam.
  • Percussive Therapy: Many a hapless tennis racquet has been smashed into oblivion by a losing player taking out their frustrations on it. Special mention goes to Mikhail Youzhny who once smashed a racquet against his own head hard enough to draw blood.
  • Pregnant Badass: Serena Williams dominating tournaments like the 2018 Australian Open (where she also broke the record for most Slams won in the Open era) is no surprise; what did surprise everyone a few months after she won it however was the reveal that she a couple of weeks pregnant at the time, and without dropping a set no less.
  • Product Placement:
    • The top tennis players are paid by clothing brands to wear outfits specially tailored by the companies for them at their matches, which means that Nike headbands and Adidas sneakers are ubiquitous at any major tennis competition. This even extends to watch brands; Andy Murray's first act after finally winning his first Slam was a frantic search for his Rado watch to wear during the trophy ceremony.
    • Tournaments themselves are also subject to this, with all official match clocks sponsored by Rolex and the speed guns by IBM. Also the 2012 Madrid Masters 1000 tournament controversially changed the colour of its clay courts to blue, apparently to match the sponsor. The ATP and WTA responded by banning tournament operators from entering into sponsorship deals for surface colours.
    • Many were shocked by Simona Halep playing throughout the 2018 Australian Open wearing a non-brand (albeit decent) dress, wondering why the World No. 1 player was being treated so poorly that she was left with no clothing sponsor prior to the tournament. After her run to the final, she eventually got picked up by Nike.
  • Pyrrhic Victory:
    • Almost every match that's so long that the winner is still exhausted when he/she has to play the next match. The most vicious examples are matches where the final set goes well beyond 6-6, such as the Wimbledon 2018 Isner-Anderson semifinal and Wimbledon 2010 Isner-Mahut first round match (the latter infamous for lasting for three days) where the winner was evidently in no shape to do well in their next matches and so could not put up much of a fight. The 2018 Isner-Anderson semifinal was the final straw for the All-England Club, which instituted a final set tiebreak at 12 games all the following year.
    • One of the main reasons the Big Three have dominated the Slams for so long; a player might be able to summon the herculean effort required to beat one Living Legend in the best of five format, but chances are that there will be one or two more between them and the title. Nadal is the most striking example; he has lost before the final of a major more than 10 times since 2011, but the winner has lost his next match on many of those occasions, and managing to win the whole tournament is rare (Djokovic first did it at Wimbledon 2018). Tomáš Berdych had the immense misfortune of playing all three at Wimbledon in 2010, defeating both Djokovic and Federer before falling to Nadal in the only Slam final of his career.
  • Recursive Adaptation: Modern tennis was invented in the 1870s in England as lawn tennis, an outdoor summer game meant to be played on (really short) grass, based on an indoor game played on wooden floors that developed beginning in late medieval France. It spread very quickly and gained great popularity, which lead many players to want to keep playing in the winter. So they would up playing indoors on wooden gymnasium floors. This even lead to the short-lived World Covered Court Championships, intended as a third major to go with the World Grass Court Championships (i.e., Wimbledon) and the World Clay Court Championships (which merged with the French national championships). To this day, many pro tournaments, including both the men's and women's year end championships, are played indoors. Bare wood isn't used anymore (it was deemed too fast); carpet coverings, which evolved into textured rubber mats, were used for many years, before they were replaced by portable floors surfaced with the same type of acrylics used for hard courts that, ironically, are usually wood panels underneath.
  • The Rival: Due to the solo nature of the game and how the higher ranked players are engineered to meet in the big matches, tennis lends itself to this trope. There are usually 2 or 3 players in a generation that often meet in finals and Slams. Some of the more notable pairs include:
    • Chris Evert and Martina Navratilova: the cool-headed hard-court baseliner vs the emotional grass-court serve-and-volleyer. They hold an Open Era record of a whopping 80 encounters over a span of 15 years (1973 to 1988), including 22 matches at Grand Slams and a total of 60 tournament finals. Evert had a head start on Navratilova with her winning 27 of their first 40 matches, but Navratilova dominated their rivalry in later years with the final tally being 43-37 in Navratilova's favor. Fittingly, the two ended their careers with the exact same number of Slams at 18 each.
    • John McEnroe and Björn Borg: the Hot-Blooded American vs the heart-throb, Scandinavian Iceman. Between 1978-81 they played 14 matches, winning 7 each. It was the shortest lived rivalry of McEnroe, but the most well-known. McEnroe has also stated that of all his rivals, Borg was the only one he never had a problem with.
    • John McEnroe and Ivan Lendl: the Hot-Blooded American vs the emotionless commie robot. This was McEnroe's second best known and bitterest rivalry and he's openly less than besties with Lendl to this day. It just might have something to do with the fact that of the 36 matches they played, Lendl won 21.
    • Andre Agassi and Pete Sampras: the charismatic, extroverted baseliner vs the quiet, introverted serve and volleyer. Sampras won 20 of their 34 matches and ended up with more Grand Slams, but Agassi was arguably the crowd favourite. In the US Open 2001 quarter-final neither player broke the other's serve, with every set decided by a tie-break.
    • Boris Becker and Stefan Edberg: the wildly passionate prima-donna vs the deliberately bland Swede. Becker won 25 of their 35 meetings, but their rivalry was made famous by meetings in three consecutive Wimbledon finals. Here Edberg won twice.
    • Steffi Graf and Monica Seles: the stern-faced German with the massive forehand vs the bubbly Hungariannote  youth with the fearsome backhand. Their rivalry is most notorious for inducing a crazed Graf fan to stab Seles after she dethroned Graf as the World No. 1. They met in 15 matches overall, with Graf winning 10 of them.
    • Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal: the graceful, traditional, right-handed grass-courter vs the raw power of the lefty clay-courter. With their many head-to-heads, Nadal is the only player ever to have a winning record over Federer with a difference of more than 4.note  Enjoying a close friendship off the court, their 2008 Wimbledon final (which broke Federer's almost record streak of 40 straight match wins there and ensured that he lost the No. 1 ranking for the first time) is widely cited as the greatest match of the Open Era. Much excitement ensued when they met again for the 2017 Australian Open final (won by Federer in five sets), nearly six years after their last grand slam final at Roland Garros in 2011.
    • Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic: Unlike the above rivalries, the main appeal of their rivalry lies not in how different they are in their playing styles but in how similar they are in competitive fierceness and baseline rallying and defense. These two have starred in the longest Grand Slam final of all time (Australian Open 2012) and the second-longest Wimbledon semifinal of all time in 2018, attesting to the superlative level of determination and athleticism on both sides. As of their 2021 Roland Garros semifinal, they have met an ATP Open Era record of 58 times (including numerous Slam finals), with Djokovic holding a narrow lead (currently 30–28) since late in 2015.
    • Also from the Big Four era, Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic: the stoic and elegant attacker vs. the openly emotional and utilitarian defender. As of Roland Garros 2021, their rivalry is the second most prolific in Open Era men's tennis with 50 meetings (Djokovic leads 27-23). Some of their most memorable matches have come in Slam semifinals; Federer broke Djokovic's 43-match winning streak in the 2011 French Open semis, and Djokovic came back from double match point down against Federer in both the 2010 and 2011 US Open semis. They also played the longest-ever Wimbledon final in 2019, which Djokovic won after Federer had double match point in the fifth set. Despite getting less attention than the Federer/Nadal rivalry, these two have actually played more matches and have a closer head-to-head.
    • Stan Wawrinka emerged as another rival to Djokovic in the mid-2010s, with some commentators calling him Novak's most formidable single-match threat after defeating him in two four-set Grand Slam finals (the 2015 French Open and the 2016 US Open). Unfortunately, injuries and inconsistency seem to have derailed this one.
    • After spending a decade virtually undisputed as the most dominant player on clay, Rafael Nadal found an actual rival in Dominic Thiem, the only person to defeat him on red dirt in both 2017 and 2018. Their first match on any other surface (a brutal five-setter in the 2018 US Open quarterfinals, which Nadal won in a fifth-set tiebreak) was widely hailed as the best match of the tournament and as proof that Thiem can hang with the best anywhere, not just on clay. At the 2020 Australian Open, Thiem delivered on that promise with his first win over Nadal at a major.
  • Rivals Team Up: Rivals in singles will sometimes pair up to play doubles; the Williams sisters have famously competed in doubles together and had massive success. This form of Dream Team is less common in the men's game at the Slam level, but a fairly regular sight on the tour.
  • Screaming Warrior: A controversial subject in tennis; there are currently no rules against a player 'grunting' when they hit the ball, but many people are calling for it to be penalised. As well as the obvious advantages of distraction and intimidation, players will try to hear the way a ball is hit to predict how it will bounce; a tricky thing to do if your opponent is shouting over the top of it. Notable grunters include Monica Seles, Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova (who has been recorded at 101 decibels), Victoria Azarenka, Jimmy Connors, Andre Agassi, Rafael Nadal and Novak Djokovic.
  • Second Place Is for Losers: Despite runner-up finishes being impressive on their own, it doesn't stop players from feeling disappointed when they don't win the whole tournament (and understandable too — making the final itself is great but it is everyone's ultimate goal to win the championship).
    Serena Williams: At the end of the day, if you're not first, you're last.
  • Sibling Rivalry:
    • Venus and Serena Williams (born just 15 months apart) have experienced a storied rivalry since 1998, their dominance has lead to them contesting no fewer than nine Grand Slam finals and one YEC final. Serena (the younger sister) leads their head to head by 17-11 and 7-2 in GS finals.
    • Manuela, Katerina and Magdalena Maleeva all spent time inside the top 10 in the late 80s-90s and played each other a combined total of 15 times. The elder sister won in every match except onenote  and there was speculation about match fixing as all of Manuela's victories over Magdalena came via retirements.
  • Sibling Team: Sisters Serena and Venus Williams have achieved the Career Golden Slam in doubles, winning 13 Grand Slam tournaments and 3 Olympic golds. Brothers John and Patrick McEnroe avert this slightly; they played doubles together, but their success came with other partners. And then there's the Bryan brothers, twins who have annihilated every record possible in men's doubles.
  • Spiritual Successor:
    • Gaël Monfils and Jo-Wilfried Tsonga to Yannick Noah.note  Both are charismatic, flamboyant and extremely popular players of Afro-French descent and enormous raw talent expected to carry French tennis back to its Four Musketeers heyday of the '20s and '30s, just like Noah. Despite Noah's one Grand Slam singles title, he couldn't achieve it, because of injuries and bad luck. The same fate has generally befallen Monfils and Tsonga, neither yet able to break through to a Slam title.
    • At the beginning of his career, Roger Federer was considered this to Pete Sampras. He cited Sampras as one of his idols, sported a similar serve-and-volley style, and, due to sponsorship, their racquets and kits often looked identical. Also, in 2001 he became the only person ever to beat Sampras over 5 sets at Wimbledon, doing so on his Centre Court debut, which was seen as a Passing the Torch moment.note  Federer has spent the rest of his career eclipsing most of the records and milestones set by Sampras.
    • Fans and journalists have been trying to identify Roger Federer's successor for the better part of two decades:
      • The title was held briefly by Frenchman Richard Gasquet, who was just nine years old when his countrymen started proclaiming him "baby Federer" (to make this even more absurd, Roger Federer himself was only fourteen at the time). Unfortunately, Gasquet's career peaked in the Juniors, and he has failed to live up to those lofty expectations on the ATP Tour.
      • Next was Bulgarian player Grigor Dimitrov. He uses the same racquet as Federer did for most of his career, they were both sponsored by Nike, and Federer was Dimitrov's childhood hero to the point that he essentially based his entire game around the Swiss player. Dimitrov rose as high as No. 3 in the world at his best, but swiftly declined without ever reaching a Slam final, leading some tennis fans to derisively dub him "Baby Gasquet" instead.
      • The latest player to spark comparisons to Federer is Greek player Stefanos Tsitsipas, whose aggressive all-court game and one-handed backhand also resemble his idol's. At 21, Tsitsipas has defeated Federer himself on the way to his first major semifinal and on the way to victory in the 2019 ATP Finals, broken into the top 10 and briefly the top 5, and become the youngest player ever to record wins over all of the "Big Three" (including a victory over Nadal that came not just on clay, but in Spain at the Madrid Masters). Only time will tell, however, if he fares better long-term than Gasquet and Dimitrov.
    • Some other young players have been called "Baby Novak" for explicitly basing their game on Novak Djokovic's two-handed backhand, defense, and return-focused playing style, like Borna Ćorić and Hyeon Chung. Djokovic himself has commented on the similarities between Ćorić's game and his own.
    • Dominic Thiem was dubbed the "Prince of Clay" in the mid-2010s and viewed as the player most likely to succeed Nadal (the "King of Clay") as the top performer on the surface; he is second only to Djokovic in wins over Nadal on clay and is even with Djokovic himself on it (ironically, he would win both his first Masters title and his first Slam on hardcourt). Thiem's style of play is often described as an evolution of Stan Wawrinka's, thanks to his one-handed backhand and incredibly powerful groundstrokes, plus exceptional speed that Wawrinka lacks. After his third Slam final at the 2020 Australian Open, his career trajectory sparked comparisons to Andy Murray as he outperformed his contemporaries but struggled to win a slam in the Big Three era. Thiem invoked the comparison himself after his semifinal victory at the 2020 US Open, joking that if he lost another final he'd have to call Murray for advice on how to get out of a 0-4 hole. Thankfully for him, that wasn't necessary.
    • Naomi Osaka's breakthrough for Asian tennis (being the first Asian singles No. 1 and first Japanese singles Slam winner) is often compared to Li Na's own breakthrough for Asia, which included the previous highest Asian singles ranking of No. 2 and being both the first Asian and Chinese singles Slam winner.note  Appropriately, the person to hand Osaka the trophy at the 2019 Australian Open (which would mark her rise to No. 1) was no other than Li herself.
  • Spotlight-Stealing Squad:
    • Djokovic stole the spotlight from Federer and Nadal during the end of 2010 and all during 2011 when he had an incredible run. He won 43 consecutive matches (including his second Australian Open title) before losing to Roger Federer in the French Open semifinals. He then went on to win the next three Slams, including back-to-back defeats of Federer and Nadal at the US Open.
    • Speaking of Federer, try watching an ATP match between two other players in a tournament he's in and take a shot every time the commentators mention him. Or a tournament he's been knocked out of. Hell, even a tournament he never entered in the first place. Or women's tournaments. Or wheelchair tennis. Or any article on men's tennis written since 2003. You will die.
    • Alexander Zverev spent several years standing head and shoulders above the rest of his generation, rising as high as No. 3 in the world and winning three Masters titles despite infamously struggling at the Grand Slams. At the 2019 Australian Open, 20-year-old Stefanos Tsitsipas co-opted the spotlight by defeating Roger Federer, reaching the semifinal, and backing up his sensational run by breaking into the top 10 just a few months later. Their less-than-friendly rivalry made the shift even more galling for Zverev, as evidenced by his comments in press conferences. Later that year, all of the previously-hyped young stars were abruptly upstaged by 23-year-old Daniil Medvedev's brilliant summer hardcourt season, which culminated in a thrilling five-set US Open final against Rafael Nadal. His subsequent title run in St. Petersburg made him the first man outside of the Big Four to reach five consecutive finals since Goran Ivanišević in 1996, the very year Medvedev was born. In March 2021, Medvedev became the first man outside the Big Four to crack the top 2 in the ATP rankings since 2005.
    • Wimbledon had two of these in 2019. The mixed doubles draw was headlined by the Dream Team of Serena Williams and Andy Murray, when Murray had just recently returned to tennis after surgery that could have ended his career. As the tournament progressed, even that story was eclipsed by that of 15-year-old American Cori "Coco" Gauff, who received a wildcard into qualifiers, defeated Venus Williams in the first round, and saved two match points against Polona Herzog in the third round before falling to eventual champion Simona Halep. "Coco Mania" swiftly took over, especially in American tennis media.
  • Stage Mum: Tennis is notorious for parents pushing their children into the sport and putting a lot of unnecessary stress and pressure on them; it's usually the dads rather than the mums who are the problem.
  • Sudden Death: Tiebreaks (first to 7 points, win by 2) are played if a set reaches 6-6, with policies varying on tiebreaks in deciding sets at the Slams. As of 2019, they all have different procedures; the US Open plays a standard 7-point tiebreak at 6-6, the Australian Open plays a 10-point "super tiebreak" at 6-6, Wimbledon plays a standard tiebreak at 12-12, and the French Open maintains that the victor must win by 2 games in the final set.
  • Tactical Rock–Paper–Scissors: The post-2008 shufflings of the pecking order of men's tennis almost read like a video game designer tweaking his game to be fairer among the top competition. At first, there's just Roger Federer who nobody can beat. Enter Rafael Nadal, the player with the raw strength and force to overpower Federer. Then just when Nadal is starting to look like a Game-Breaker in his own right, Novak Djokovic, an extremely agile but fatigue-prone player, gains the toughness needed to withstand Nadal's might while retaining the agility to outmaneuver him. Then, just to make things even more interesting, Andy Murray upgrades from a good player who's not quite as good as the top three to a player capable of going toe-to-toe against any of them. For a short time Stan Wawrinka, perhaps even more physically powerful than Nadal but far more erratic than the "Big Four", turned into a threat to take down any of the others on his day after upgrading his mental game, but his challenge wouldn't last due to injuries and inconsistency. All well into their thirties, they have continued to adjust and improve their games to better compete with each other and the newcomers on the tour.
  • Tough Act to Follow:
    • Poor Andy Roddick, always labelled the underachiever. The American star player of the 2000s, his highly successful career included 32 titles, 1 Grand Slam and 13 weeks at World No. 1. Unfortunately, the American star players of the 1990s were Pete Sampras and Andre Agassi, with 124 titles, 22 Slams and 387 weeks at No. 1 between them, and Roddick had the additional misfortune to be playing in the same era as Roger Federer.
    • Marat Safin was seen as a huge talent with real potential, but after managing to win 2 Grand Slams he quickly faded away until his retirement.
    • John McEnroe had one of the best-ever seasons in Open Era history in 1984, going undefeated for 42 matches until his loss to Ivan Lendl in the French Open final and racking up two Grand Slam wins and a record winning percentage of 96.47%, winning 82 out of 85 matches. He would never again win a Slam after that phenomenal year, or even reach a Slam final after 1985. Similarly, Mats Wilander became just the third man in the Open Era to win three Slams in a single season in 1988, upsetting then-No. 1 Ivan Lendl along the way to do it, but the intense pressure of that year caused him to become so burnt out that he couldn't recapture the motivation that had propelled him in 1988 and failed to even reach another Slam final for the rest of his career.
    • Michael Chang and Lleyton Hewitt both peaked early on in their careers, with Chang becoming the youngest-ever Slam champion at 17 years old and Hewitt becoming the youngest-ever No. 1 at 20. Their later careers weren't exactly failures with them continuing to be Slam contenders for years, but Chang ultimately couldn't shake off his "one-Slam wonder" label in spite of reaching 3 more Slam finals and Hewitt was ultimately overshadowed by Federer and never reached the No. 1 position again after losing it in 2003.
    • Richard Gasquet is in the very strange position of struggling to live up to the act of his nine-year-old self. To make a long story short, he was hyped up hugely by his countrymen as "baby Federer" and had his face featured on the cover of a French tennis magazine when he was just nine years old. His stint as the junior World No. 1, however, turned out to be the apex of his career as the crushing national expectations and pressure proved too much for him to live up to as an adult and he has made it past the fourth round of a Slam only three times (and never past the semifinals) so far.
    • On the women's side, Ana Ivanović looked set to become the next dominant WTA champion when she won her maiden Slam at the 2008 French Open and ascended to the No. 1 ranking spot at the tender age of 20. However, 2008 turned out to be the apex of her career as she never managed to reach another Slam final or become a consistent top 10 player (aside from a brief resurgence in 2014) before her retirement in 2016.
    • Gabriela Sabatini won only one Grand Slam in spite of reaching the semifinals or better at eighteen Slams, partly due to Graf and Seles hogging the majors during her career and partly due to her tendency to fall apart in big matches; she infamously lost the 1991 Wimbledon final to Graf in spite of coming within two points from victory and serving for the match twice.
    • Eugenie Bouchard is the poster child for how difficult it can be for a young player to follow up a huge breakthrough year. In 2014, she burst onto the big stage at 20 years of age by making the Wimbledon final and two additional Slam semifinals, and finished the year ranked No. 7 with tennis media touting her everywhere as the new "It Girl" of the WTA. Unfortunately, the massive expectations and pressure created by her 2014 successes got to her and this, coupled with unlucky injuries in 2015, caused her playing form and confidence to plummet to the point where her ranking dropped out of the top 100 in 2018 and she had to play qualifying matches for Wimbledon, the same tournament in which she had reached the final 4 years before.
    • Angelique Kerber looked like the next big threat on the WTA Tour following a successful first nine months of 2016, highlighted by three grand slam finals (two which she won), a silver medal in the Olympics and the No. 1 ranking. The next 12 months that followed however were rather disastrous, with many early round exits including losing in the first round in two Slams, one of them while she was No. 1. She only made it to the fourth round in the two other Slams, and she lost the two smaller tournament finals she got to reach. Despite (or because of) this, she made a resurgence in 2018 with a far better winning record which included another Slam under her belt.
    • Novak Djokovic has had so many historically great seasons that his 2019 campaign was seen as something of a disappointment, despite the fact that he won five titles including two Slams and two Masters events and missed out on year-end No. 1 by just a few hundred points.
  • Trying Not to Cry: Often happens to runners up in Grand Slam finals as they struggle to pay their respects to the winner, who has just trampled on their dreams in front of a global audience. Finals are the only matches where the loser is interviewed.
    Roger Federer: You're like: 'All right, I'll handle this.' And you walk out and 15,000 people feel bad for you. Next thing you know it's a bit awkward.
  • While You Were in Diapers:
    • It was noted in 2013 Wimbledon that then 42-year-old Kimiko Date-Krumm, the oldest player in the top 100 at the time, started playing in 1989, before many current tennis players were even born (for example one article noted her Romanian opponent was born a year later).
    • Roger Federer went pro in 1998; as he has continued to play into his late thirties, this trope has naturally come into effect with regard to new players. Stefanos Tsitsipas, who defeated Federer at the 2019 Australian Open, reached the Top 10 shortly afterward, and went on to defeat Federer in the semifinals of the 2019 YEC, was born in 1998.
    • The 2019 US Open final pitted 37-year-old Living Legend Serena Williams against 19-year-old Canadian superstar Bianca Andreescu. When Williams won her first US Open, Andreescu had not been born.
    • The Bryans, who also joined the tour in 1998, won their final Masters 1000 title at the 2019 Miami Open, about a month before they turned 41. Their final tournament in 2020, which they won, ended about two months before their 42nd birthday.
  • Who Needs Overtime?: In general, any match that has the final possible set end with a score of 7-5, the closest score a set can have without a tiebreaker.
  • Wonder Twin Powers: The most successful men's doubles team ever is made up of twin brothers Bob and Mike Bryan. They have 16 Grand Slams and an Olympic gold medal.
  • Worthy Opponent:
    • "Roger, I know exactly how you feel. Just remember you're a great champion and you're one of the best in history..." Nadal, after beating Federer at the 2009 Australian Open. Federer got his revenge for that loss a whopping eight years later in their 2017 final, where he prevailed in five sets to win an impressive 18th grand slam and beat Nadal in a slam for the first time since Wimbledon 2007.
    • "One day, you will win Roland Garros. You deserve it." Wawrinka to Djokovic, after defeating him at the 2015 French Open and denying him a career Grand Slam in the process. 364 days later, Djokovic completed his career Slam.
    • After defeating Dominic Thiem for the third year and second final in a row at Roland Garros, Nadal started his speech by congratulating Thiem on his performance and assuring him that he will win the French Open in the future.
    • As for Thiem, he had the following to say after his epic comeback final win over Alexander Zverev at Flushing Meadows in 2020: "I wish we could have two winners today. I think we both deserved it."
  • You Can Barely Stand: The 2012 Australian Open final between Djokovic and Nadal was the longest major final in history, lasting five hours and fifty-three minutes before Djokovic was able to close out the fifth set. Both were so exhausted and had such severe leg cramps that chairs had to be brought out for them before the trophy ceremony.