Wimbledon fortnight is not a good time for non-tennis fans. As the nation is swept up in middle-class sporting fever, you’re left wondering what all the fuss is about. Luckily for you, amateur tennis enthusiast and discredited historian Sam Everard has prepared this handy guide to get you up to scratch.
- The word ‘tennis’ stems from the Latin word ‘tanus’, meaning ‘unnecessary noises’.
- The sport was invented by Greek philosopher John McEnroe in 12 BC, and was originally played with the severed heads of Roman soldiers.
- Tennis took a hiatus in the late 17th century, since rackets could no longer be strung with Dodo gut.
- Contrary to popular belief, tennis is more than just hitting a ball over a net. It has to go inside some lines, too. And sometimes you do over-arm shots. So really, there’s a lot of variation.
- Tennis ‘balls’ aren’t really balls at all. They’re cleverly disguised cubes.
- In the event of a ‘tiebreak’ at the end of a set, a ballboy shouts ‘MULTIBALL’ and upends a crate of balls across the court. The first player to score 50 points wins.
- The loud screams and grunts of female tennis players are actually mating calls, designed to attract sponsorship deals.
- Roger Federer, born a poor watchmaker and chocolatier, is now one of the best players in the world. He remembers his humble roots, however, and never celebrates with anything as fancy as clothes embroidered with his initials.
- Andy Murray trained for years up a mountain in Japan, refining his resolve until he was unable to smile or feel joy at anything.
- Novak Django Pterodactyl Bjorn Djokovic actually has a silent letter in his name. It’s pronounced ‘Nova’.