Here are ten reasons why tennis is one of the most popular sports on television.
1. It’s Inclusive
Probably the most unique quality of tennis is the fact that it’s highly inclusive. Anybody of any age, gender identity, or physical ability can play tennis. There is even the National Foundation of Wheelchair Tennis, which has existed since 1980 and now has its own event at Wimbledon. There are not many sports that involve individuals with a disability, which makes tennis particularly special.
Being a sport that is accessible to so many people can make it fulfilling to watch, especially as many of us watch sports to follow athletes and players that we can relate to or who inspire us.
The global reach that tennis has facilitates diversity, which makes it both easy to find players you have something in common with, as well as to admire those at the peak of their athletic potential.
2. Longer Matches Are Entertaining, Not Boring
Unlike sports such as football and basketball, tennis is not a very time-sensitive sport, as matches only conclude once a certain score is achieved. As such, a match between two players with similar ability can last for hours.
However, even the longest tennis matches offer constant action, especially when two fierce competitors are playing against each other. Rallies between players can go unbroken for several minutes, which provides the sustained suspense only a sport like tennis can offer an audience.
3. There Is a Low Risk of Injury
Injury for tennis players is significantly rarer than in players of other sports. When players are injured, it’s almost never something dramatic. Two-thirds of tennis injuries that affect professional players are overuse injuries due to the repetitive movements of the sport.
Unlike injuries common in other sports, overuse won’t typically end your favorite player’s career. Tennis fans can take comfort in the low injury rate since their favorite players are nearly guaranteed to be healthy and present for that exciting match you've been anticipating.
4. It Has Its Own Language
There are many unconventional words and terms that only make sense in the context of a game of tennis. Where else can a score of nil be called something like “love”? If you watch for long enough and listen closely to the commentators, you can pick up this exclusive language pretty easily.
There are simple but cool words like "ace", which is a serve that was so expertly delivered, the opponent couldn't even touch it with their racket. There are other, more colloquial terms as well, like “the brutalizer,” which refers to when a player smashes a ball powerfully and directly at their opponent.
Once you’ve got the language of tennis down, you can watch the matches while feeling like you belong to an elite club!
5. It Features Impressive Displays of Athletic Feats
The speed of the balls hit during a tennis match averages approximately 130 miles per hour, a statistic which applies to players of all genders. This requires a massive amount of strength and power that is impressive to behold. Speed and agility are also critical during play, as unpredictable shots often need to be countered quickly across the court to prevent an opponent from scoring.
It is essential to constantly change direction, balance, and readjust for the next shot, especially during competitive rallies. Appreciating this display in physicality, especially among players of varying genders and ages, makes the game even more fun to watch.
6. It’s an Intensely Mental Game
Every sport requires some level of mental agility. However, some sports, no matter how much of a quick thinker you may be, can’t be won without brute strength. Tennis is one of those sports in which the player with greater mental endurance will almost surely win.
This is one of tennis’s most exciting qualities. Potentially game-winning or game-losing decisions need to be made in a matter of seconds. While it’s impressive to see tennis players show off their physicality, it’s even more riveting to see how different players react under pressure and how sharp they can be in critical moments.
It is this constant anticipation of where the next shot will come from that keeps you on the edge of your seat.
7. There Are Fewer Players to Keep Track Of
Unlike many other sports, it’s really easy to familiarize yourself with tennis players when watching a match. There are only two players to focus on in a singles match, and only four in a doubles. This also means that commentators can really closely analyze these players during the game’s downtime.
This gives you a better understanding of the players’ personalities, their struggles with fatigue and how they express their emotions. You can also see who tends to be a good sport in the face of defeat, and witness the celebration of those who emerge victorious.
Getting to know players on an individual level is something that isn’t always possible in team sports. In this way, as an audience member, you can develop a close attachment to players, making watching every match even more enjoyable.
8. The Long Rivalries
Who doesn’t secretly love a little drama, especially with their sports? Due to the rare instances of injury discussed earlier, the careers of tennis players can be very long. My favorite player, Serena Williams, has been playing professionally since 1995.
Even though she’s one of the most decorated tennis players of all time, she’s no stranger to rivalries. Belarusian competitor Victoria Azarenka was her adversary from 2008 all the way up to 2020. Rivalries like this can last for longer than a decade and make for highly anticipated match-ups.
Sports rarely feature two solitary players at the top of their game battling it out for years on end. As such, many tennis fans cite these long-standing rivalries as the reason they can’t wait to watch the next match.
9. You Can Learn From the Professionals’ Plays and Mistakes
For people who play tennis, watching the game can be an enriching practice of self improvement. Obviously, if you want to give tennis a go for yourself, taking formal lessons is the most efficient way to learn. However, tuning in to see how the best of the best do it can offer some great insights.
You can watch the way the best players move, how they react, and even make it fun for yourself by guessing what kind of shot they might take next. If you are someone with a unique ability, like playing left-handed, check out the techniques of someone like Rafael Nadal to see how to optimize your own game.
You can also observe how professionals make decisions that end in failure, even if it is just for reassurance that even the best players make mistakes.
10. Wimbledon is Uniquely Famous
The Wimbledon Championships held annually in England are like the Super Bowl of tennis, and are regarded as most prestigious championships in the game.
Unlike other tennis tournaments, it’s the only major competition played on grass. This literally evens the playing field, as it doesn’t cater to players with a certain style and is flexible to all techniques. So, when you tune in to Wimbledon, you can see an exciting variation in play styles.
Possibly the most exciting trait of Wimbledon is its ability to attract major celebrities to the tournament. It’s basically a red carpet event! As if the tournament itself wasn’t sensational enough, it can also feature a courtside glimpse of your favorite musicians, movie stars, and other athletes.
With the competition taking place in Southwest London, it's not uncommon to even see members of the Royal Family enjoying the matches.
Attending a professional tennis match in person is one of the most thrilling experiences you can have. However, now more than ever, people are enjoying the convenience of watching sports on television due to the pandemic and the high cost of tickets (especially during the post-season).
Tennis provides a special sort of excitement in athletic entertainment across the globe and for good reason. There are many qualities that make tennis stand out from other sports, making it wonderful to both watch and play yourself.