I'm an absolute soccer fan(atic) and I truly believe its the best sport ever created, ever! The magical antics of an expert footballer, the amazing goals, the agony of the misses, the chants of the 12th player, the Oscar-worthy theatrics of the players, the eccentric fans—the whole realm of football, is simply unparalleled!
But somehow tennis engaged me enough, and mind you, despite my reputation, its not just due to the Russian blondes, oy!
I'm far from being a tennis expert, and I'd be the last person to say I know all the tennis records by heart. And I even admit I prefer watching women's tennis over men's for the same reasons I like watching women's beach volleyball. But I do like tennis.
I see it as the perfect cocktail of power, grace, skill and panache. From the power-packed forehands to the desperate slides and the inhuman grunts! The game has it all, and few sports can engage an audience as much as tennis.
With that in mind, I decided to create a list of the A to Zs of tennis, a nonchalant random list of 26 entities in the realm of tennis. Not an absolute list, not the best list, not an objective list. Just a list an ordinary tennis fan creates when he drinks way too much coffee.
A : The Australian Open—the first grand slam of the year, played on hard court & one of the most watched tournaments in the world. If you can win a championship in the hellish searing heats down under, you must be damn good!
B : Having won won 12 Grand Slam singles titles, 16 Grand Slam women's doubles titles, and 11 Grand Slam mixed doubles titles Billie Jean King is hailed by many as the best female tennis player. An inspiration for many female players in decades to come, she famously beat a former male Wimbeldon champion in the "battle of the sexes." But I'm pretty sure Michael Jackson's song "Billie Jean" is NOT about her!
C : Its a dream come true for any emerging tennis player to get a chance to play on the center court at Wimbeldon. It is the premier location, no spotlight warrants as much respect and delight as this.
D : Donald Budge won all the four Grand Slams in one single calender year in 1939 and thats no mean feat! All you Federer fans, take note why King Roger isn't the all-time best, oy!
E : Eve power is exhibited more in this sport than any other! Take Steffi Graf for eg. She has won more Grand Slam titles than Federer and Nadal combined!
F : One reason to like France for a change is that one of the four major Grand Slams takes place in France! The prestigious French Open, played on clay courts is physically the most demanding sports event.
G : G could stand for grass or Grand Slam or Gustavo Kuerton for god's sake, but in my list it stands for "grunts"! Probably one of the most distinguishing entities in any sport, if you're a "good" tennis player and you hit a smashing forehand or a tedious backhand and don't emit an unearthly grunt, you're just faking it!
H : How many of you dedicated tennis fans knew that originally the tennis court designed in the 19th century had an hourglass shape? It was only in the 20th century that it was reshaped to a rectangular order as we see it today.
I : If you feature in the International Tennis Hall of fame, you must be damn good! Its a non-profit HoF and museum at the Newport Casino in Newport, Rhode Island, USA.
J : The junior circuits in tennis are the perfect platforms for many future tennis superstars. And if you're talented, like Hewitt, you can even directly jump in with the big fishes!
K : King Federer isn't a tennis royalty just for nothing. Seen by many as the most complete tennis player to ever lay his hands on a tennis racket, this awesomeness personified has won 13 Grand Slams and writes history in his own words.
L : "Love all"; not a message of peace, well, not here anyways. Just that tennis has so many opportunities for delicate flirting and match-making; and tennis couples can be just as fabulous as any other celeb couple. Look at Andre and Steffi!
M : What do you get when you combine power with grace, speed with elegance, and male with a female tennis player? A mixed doubles of course, a one of a kind sports entity where talent and co-ordination is just as important as chivalry and the odd piece of audacious flirting!
N : Martina Navrátilová is a legend, why? You have to be one if the greatest female player of the game Billie Jean King says this about you—""She's the greatest singles, doubles and mixed doubles player who's ever lived."
O : No sport is complete without its officials. Those hard-working, all-seeing, decision making types. Thankfully unlike some other sports, there haven't been many larger than life controversial figures here.
P : No sport is complete without a little pressure, no? Especially an intense one which can last for hours together, is physically demanding and where anything can happen. If you have any iota of reputation, the pressure is on you!
Q : If Federer is the King, the royal counterpart has to be Queen Steffi Graf. She has won 22 Grand Slams in a total of 107 career titles, including a "golden slam" winning the Olympics gold medal in addition to all the grand slams in the calender year of 1988. A lethal German dose of beauty and talent.
R : The Rrrrrussians are coming, the Rrrrrrussians are coming! No other country has given as many top tennis players who look like models right outta your dream magazine as Russia! Tennis would be an utterly boring sport without those Russian players, that's for sure!
S : Watch out! Speed is just as important as endurance and accuracy or talent. Got a fast serve? Can move around quickly, sliding and running around like a sly fox? Then you might have a chance.
T : Think tennis doesn't have its mavericks? Disprove that theory by watching a "tweener" shot which is nothing more than a trick shot first popularized by Yannick Noah which involves hitting the tennis ball between the legs, from front to rear!
U : The last Grand Slam event in the year is also the most entertaining. The US Open may not have the same history as that of Wimbledon, but it always hosts some prolific matches you can see!
V : If you're searching for a tennis equivalent for a boxer's upper cut, or baseballer's home-run or a cricket batsman's pull shot, that one aggressive adrenaline pumping punch which announces your authority and intent to your opponent, it'd be a volley. Nothing demoralizes a player to watch his hard saved ball getting smashed by his opponent from near the net with a humungous force!
W : Its impossible to assign this alphabet to anything else but Wimbeldon—the most prestigious and the oldest tennis tournament in the world. Played on grass court, and with a purse of nearly 12 million pounds, it has hosted some of the most epic matches tennis world has ever seen!
X : The X-factor is always the money, nobody plays the game for charity. And tennis players indeed are some of the highest earning athletes in the world. Combining their winning purses and whatever they make in ads, it makes for whopping sums of money!
Y : "You cannot be serious!" When McEnroe uttered those words to thrash an umpire, little did he know it'd become the most popular sports quote and become a trademark embodying anger of the 80s!
Z : "Zzzzzz..." is for the lack of sleep. Be it for for us guys who keep dreaming of Maria Sharapova, or the sleepless nights Roger Federer spends getting terrified by Nadal's prowess, or the sleepless nights writers at b/r spend writing about which of those two is better! Oy!