Novak Djokovic at the Sony Ericsson Open.
It's rare that people in the sports industry get the opportunity to show their true personalities. However, people associated with professional tennis get to show their humorous side quite often.
Whether they're current players, retired players, coaches or commentators, we're counting down the top 20 funniest people in tennis.
Bud Collins with Bethanie Mattek-Sands
Bud Collins is a veteran tennis journalist who has the respect of tennis players and fans all over the world.
However, amongst the respect, he does know how to have fun, whether it's his candor in talking about today's top players or with his outrageous outfits.
On his website, Collins has a section dedicated to nicknames he's given to various players. Here's a few examples:
Tommy Haas at the 2011 French Open
Tommy Haas has had to face many difficult things throughout his life, whether it be injuries to himself, or to his parents in a car accident.
He still seems to find the humor in life. On the Tennis Channel show "No Strings," he was known to complain about the speed limits in the United States being too slow. On the same show, he also trash talked his way through a basketball game with friends at the IMG-Bollettieri Academies.
In a recent interview on the Roland Garros website, he said he'd go see a stand-up comedian with his friend, Glen Weiner.
"He's only ranked no. 391 in the world but I assume I can still pick him!"
Jimmy Connors cheering on Andy Roddick in 2007.
This multi-Grand Slam winner knew how to work hard and play hard. He enjoyed his job and it showed. He is one of the most charismatic and funny players tennis has ever seen.
How can anyone forget his flamboyant behavior on the court, specifically at the U.S. Open?
The memory I think of in regard to Connors is in 1991, when he was 39 years old and playing at the U.S. Open. He delivered perhaps his most famous catchphrase, "This is what they paid for. This is what they want!"
Nick Bollettieri in 2010
Nick Bollettieri is arguably the most famous tennis coach in the world. He demands a lot of out his players and has coached many No. 1 ranked players and Grand Slam champions.
Bollettieri is also a guy who knows how to crack a joke. That was evident from his tweets, particularly during this year's French Open. Here's some examples:
- "Tiffany doesn't let Maria keep her earrings after her matches? If I were them, I'd dress Maria head-2-toe in jewelry and watch sales triple?"
- "@Jelena_Jankovic's new California home is not cheap, keep winning, Jelena!"
- "It's a good thing we can't read Andy Murray's lips!"
Whether it's because of his philisophical tattoos, on-court sunglasses or the zinc oxide on his nose, Janko Tipsarevic is funny.
Tipsarevic also uses Twitter to interact with friends, family and fans alike. Here are some examples of his funny tweets:
- "Second tomorrow on Suzanne Lenglen Stadium. Love that court. Let's see if she will love me back....;)"
- "Folks working at Starbucks in USA are 27 times faster then the European guys....What's the deal?..."
- "No matter how full, whenever I see people eating pizza on TV, I just wanna stuff myself."
Serena Williams at Wimbledon in 2010.
Serena Williams is one of the funniest women on the WTA Tour. Whether she's sarcastically answering interview questions, teasing her friends or playing up to a rowdy crowd, Serena Williams knows how to make people laugh.
Take a look at some of her recent tweets:
- "I'm hungry but don't wanna make the effort to eat."
- "Teddy and I are having another Golden Girls night. Yup yup."
- "Ice cream truck, and the donut truck. Only in L.A.!"
Venus Williams at the 2011 Australian Open.
When Venus Williams is getting down to business on the tennis court, you probably don't assume that she's funny.
Williams definitely has the art of tweeting funny things down to a science. Some of her recent tweets are:
- "A family meeting occurred yesterday. Every1 has 2 put their things away and wash their own dish. What followed never have been anticipated."
- "It's a shame when you aren't safe in your own home...when your phone can be kidnapped by a random person! (@serenawilliams) Brutal!"
- "Good morning, I'm feeling good about today. I don't think the work week should start till Tuesday."
Roger Federer at the 2011 French Open.
Roger Federer has made a name for himself on the comedy scene. There are currently two commercials that show the funny side of Federer.
- Lindt Lindor Truffles has Federer going through security at an airport and getting stopped for having chocolates in his duffle bag.
- Wilson racquets' "Feel More" campaign has Federer playing a therapist to a recreational tennis player.
Both of these commercials are hilarious and give competition to Federer's NetJets commercial, where he's dragging all of his Grand Slam trophies across an airport tarmac.
Dmitry Tursunov at the 2011 French Open.
While tennis fans don't get to see a lot of Dmitry Tursunov these days, he's still one of the funniest people in tennis.
Like a lot of his fellow players, Tursunov has a Twitter account. In regard to his current status in professional tennis, he sent out this tweet, "Am being followed by @ITFSeniorsRCPB. Could this be the end of the road for me?! :)"
Tursunov also has a "Bag Check" commercial on Tennis Channel, where he discusses the importance of sun tan lotion and looking like Roger Federer on the court. Tursunov never disappoints in the comedy department.
Martina Navratilova in 2010.
While watching the 2011 French Open this week, I heard Martina Navratilova tell No. 1 ranked Caroline Wozniacki not to worry about player commitments at tournaments and to pace herself. It's that honesty that makes Navratilova funny.
Here are some more quotes from Navratilova courtesy of www.about.com:
- "I've been in the twilight of my career longer than most people have had their career."
- ""I just try to concentrate on concentrating."
Murphy Jensen in 2004.
Murphy Jensen is known for being funny, whether it be while hosting his television shows, interviewing players or playing matches himself.
Everyone assumes that Bob and Mike Bryan invented the "chest bump." However, it was actually Murphy and his brother, Luke that invented it. It would get the crowd excited to watch their matches.
Jensen has a tendency to run around screaming a lot, particularly the ever-popular tennis catchphrase, "Come on!"
On his television show, "Murphy's Guide," Jensen has a disclaimer at the beginning to let the audience know he's not an expert on the place he's visiting. During each episode, he has funny interactions with the players and/or spectators. Examples of this are drinking shots of vodka with Dmitry Tursunov in Russia and pretending to get married at a drive-through chapel in Las Vegas.
Bethanie Mattek-Sands at the 2011 French Open.
Last week, Bethanie Mattek-Sands met with the clothing designer for Lady Gaga. Due to her unique fashion sense, I would definitely say Mattek-Sands is the Lady Gaga of tennis.
Her trademark knee socks and bright colors were joined by "eye black" stickers to block the sun from her eyes.
Mattek-Sands has always marched to the beat of her own drum and has a personality like nobody else on the WTA Tour.
Randy Snow in 2005.
Randy Snow will most likely be the least-known person on this countdown. However, it won't be for a lack of an outgoing and humorous personality.
Despite going through a terrible accident that left him paralyzed, Randy Snow was always the life of the party. He wasn't afraid to poke fun at people, particularly himself. He understood that life was more fun if you make fun of yourself sometimes.
One of his favorite things to do was give out nicknames to the participants of his wheelchair tennis camps. He also made them do extra laps if they didn't yell "We love it, we love it, we love it!" in response to him saying, "Wheelchair tennis."
Snow also never knew a stranger, and it was funny to see people react to his random conversation starters.
Marat Safin in 2009.
Marat Safin may be retired from the ATP World Tour, but he will never be forgotten, as one of the funniest people to play professional tennis.
Here are some quotes from an article by TennisX:
- "It's too much pressure. You have to think match by match and moment by moment or it drives you to distraction. I'm tired of all the talk about it. Everyone is obsessed with it...If I was the type of person who had tennis, tennis, tennis all the time and I went to bed and ended up dreaming about tennis, I would go nuts." - Talking about the pressure of being ranked No.1.
- "I was too busy with my own problems. Roddick won something, I think. He was in the final against, what was that guy's name again?" - Talking about not paying attention to tennis while injured.
Vince Spadea in 2009.
What is there to say about Vince Spadea?
Between his rapping about his life on the ATP World Tour to his signature catchphrase, "Spadea ain't afraidia," Spadea is even funny when he doesn't try to be. His honest opinions can make you stop and think, then laugh hysterically.
Vince Spadea is definitely one of the funniest people to be associated with professional tennis.
This picture sums up the personality of John McEnroe. He's not afraid to make fun of himself. In fact, that seems to be his favorite form of humor as a commentator these days.
While some may view his former on-court antics as inappropriate, some find them funny, especially now. Fans expect him to argue with chair umpires and utter two of his most famous catchphrases, "You cannot be serious!" and "It was on the line! Chalk flew up!"
Every hard-core tennis fan knows how much McEnroe likes Rafael Nadal. He took it one step further, by wearing Nadal's headband and "pirate pants." Does it get much funnier than that?
Andrea Petkovic in 2011.
Andrea Petkovic may be a new face to casual tennis fans. For hardcore fans, however, she's made quite a name for herself not only because of her on-court talent, but because of her unique sense of humor.
Tennis fans first got a glimpse of Petkovic's humor at the 2010 U.S. Open. She started doing her now famous "Petko-Dance" after every win. She also has her own YouTube channel in which she often dresses in crazy costumes, interacts with her fellow players and of course, dances.
Brad Gilbert in 2009.
Brad Gilbert is a commentator for ESPN and one of the funniest people in tennis.
One of the things that makes Gilbert funny is the nicknames he gives some of the players. For example:
- "Shazza"- Maria Sharapova
- "Dr. Ivo"- Ivo Karlovic
- "Wazza"- Caroline Wozniacki
- "Dickie Gasket"- Richard Gasquet
Gilbert has this uncanny ability to come very close on obscure measurements and other tennis facts that can be quite funny. He definitely keeps tennis fans and his colleagues laughing from the commentary booth.
Andy Roddick in 2011.
Andy Roddick's post-match press conferences are much anticipated by fans and media alike. Even if he has a bad loss, he can find his humor. After the 2004 Wimbledon final, he said of his opponent, Roger Federer: "I threw the kitchen sink at him and he went and got his tub."
Another one of his popular press conferences had him talking about fellow ATP World Tour player, Novak Djokovic's alleged health problems. According to this ESPN article, Roddick said, "A back and a hip? And a cramp? ... bird flu ... anthrax ... SARS ... common cough and cold. He's either quick to call a trainer or he's the most courageous guy of all time."
Roddick is also a popular athlete to follow on Twitter. One of his most recent tweets said, "At Atlanta airport and i've walked 50 steps w/o seeing a fast food place....Maybe the world is coming to an end." One can only guess at what Roddick will tweet about next.
Novak Djokovic at the 2011 French Open.
Since Novak Djokovic is mentioned in the headline, he has to be our No. 1 funny person in tennis.
Let's start with the obvious, his impersonations. Djokovic has become quite adept at imitating his fellow tennis players, particularly Rafael Nadal and Maria Sharapova. Not only are they funny, they're accurate.
Djokovic recently made a "Bag Check" commercial that airs on Tennis Channel. In it, he sings dramatically, in Serbian. Another popular video is of him and Andrea Petkovic, a.k.a. Petkorazzi.
Lastly, Djokovic likes to show off his humor by participating in fashion shows at the pre-tournament parties and even by performing with the Bryan Bros. Band at the 2010 Arthur Ashe Kids' Day. No matter what Djokovic is doing, you can assume it will be funny.