The word ‘tennis’ originated from the French ‘tenez’ meaning ‘to receive’ used as a call by the server to the receiver. Historians form that the game originated in France in the 12th century when the ball was played by the palm of the hand. Louis X of France used to play ‘Jeu de Paume’ which later on developed into the real tennis. A modern form of tennis originated in England in late 19th century. The rules of tennis have been quite stable since the 1890s, except a few changes were made afterwards like the compulsory touch of the player’s one foot with the ground throughout the game, adoption of the tie break, and the adoption of the electronic review allowing the player to challenge the line umpire’s call. Tennis is an Olympic game played throughout the world by people of all ages and even those in wheelchairs. Four major tennis events or grand slams are: The Australian Open played on hard courts, French Open played on red courts made of crushed red bricks, Wimbledon played on grass courts, and the U.S. Open which is played on hard courts. The Wimbledon championship is the world’s oldest tournament; first played in London in 1877. Not excluding many others, the famous men’s tennis players of 2012 include: Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Novak Djokovic, and Andy Murray.
1. Andy Murray
Andrew Murray was born to William Murray and Judy Murray in Glasgow on May 15, 1987. Weighing 84 kgs. and standing 1.9 m., he is a Scottish tennis player. He turned professional in 2005. Murray is the 2012 Men’s Singles Olympic champion. His world ranking is #4, and he is the British #1. He had lost the Wimbledon Final but made a great comeback. He won an exciting Olympic gold medal in the 2012 men’s singles tennis after defeating Roger Federer. It was the first gold medal for the British in tennis after 1908. Murray said, ‘I’ve had a lot of fun; the support has been amazing, and there is one more match to go. It’s been unbelievable.’.He also won an Olympic silver medal in the mixed doubles at the 2012 London Olympics. Andre Agassi is Murray’s tennis idol.
2. Roger Federer
Roger Federer was born in Basel, Switzerland on August 8, 1981. Weighing 85 kgs. and standing 6’1.’ Federer turned pro in 1998. TENNIS magazine named him as greatest tennis player of all time in its September, 2009 front page. Federer defeated defending champion Novak Djokovic in July, 2012. He is the 16 times grand slam winner. He has won all four Grand Slams; six Wimbledon, five U.S. Open, one French Open, and four Australian Open titles. Federer is next only to Rod Laver to make all four Grand Slam finals in one calendar year. He won three of them. Rod Laver made it in the year 1969. Not only Federer performed the feat in 2006 but also repeated it in the following year and this why he is a living tennis legend.
3. Serena Williams
Serena Williams was born to Richard Williams and Oracene Price in Saginaw, Michigan, U.S. on September 26, 1961. She is of African-American heritage, weighs70 kgs. and is 1.75 m. (5’9’) tall. She turned pro in September, 1995. Serena Williams has won four Olympic gold medals; three in women’s doubles and one in women’s singles. She won a gold medal at the 2012 Summer Olympics in Wimbledon and became the second player, next only to Steffi Graf, to win the Golden Grand Slam in both singles and in doubles with her sister Venus.
4. Novak Djokovic
Novak Djokovic nicknamed ‘Nole’ was born in Belgrade, Serbia on May 22, 1987. He is 1.88 m. (6’2’) tall and weighs 80 kgs. He turned pro in 2003. Novak Djokovic had to play in a very competitive environment facing great players like Federer, Nadal, and Murray. However, he emerged as a predominant tennis player in the 2011 and 2012 seasons. He won five Grand Slam titles including three in the 2011 season, and he won the World #1 ranking in 2012. Djokovic is the fifth player in the open era tennis to win three straight majors like Nadal, Roger, Federer, and Pete Sampras. Open era began on April 28, 1968 at The West Hants Club, Bournemouth England, allowing the professional players to play alongside amateurs.
5. Rafael Nadal
Rafael Nadal was born in Manacor, Spain on June 3, 1986. He is 6’1’ tall (1.85 m.)and weighs 85 kgs. He turned pro in the year 2000. He is a 10-time major tennis champion and is considered the greatest clay court player of all time. He won 11 titles playing against the tennis greats Federer and Novak Djokovic. He won an Olympic gold medal from the 2008 Beijing games. He has won all four Grand Slams. He received coaching in tennis from his uncle, Tony Nadal. Next only to Borg, he is the second youngest player to win 10 Grand Slam singles titles. He won his third title in 2012 finishing his second victory over Novak Djokovic.
6. Victoria Azarenka
Victoria Azarenka, nicknamed Vika, was born in Minsk, Belarus in July, 1989. She is 5’11’ (1.8 m.) tall and weighs 60 kgs. She turned pro in 2003. She is known for her aggressive stance and loud shrieks. She defeated Maria Sharapova in the 2012 Australian Open Final and secured the World #1 ranking for the first time. She defeated the defending champion Kim Clijsters in the semi-finals. She defeated Li Na and won in Sydney in the very beginning of her 2012 season and received her third consecutive success in Doha by defeating Sam Stosur in 2012.
7. Maria Sharapova
Maria Sharapova was born in Nyagan, Russia on April 19, 1987. She is 6’2’ tall and weighs 59 kgs. She was raised in Sochi, the site of the 2014 winter Olympics. She turned pro in 2001. Sharapova is one of the most popular tennis players in the world and has appeared on the covers of many famous fashion magazines. She won her first major by defeating the two-time defending champion Serena Williams in the Wimbledon final in 2004 at the age of 17. In April, 2012, she defeated number one Victoria Azarenka. Forbes named her the highest-paid tennis player for 7 years earning an estimated $25 million in 2010. In January, 2010 she signed a $70 million contract for 8 years with Nike. She is a hobbyist fashion designer and philatelist.
8. Agnieszka Radwanska
Agnieszka Radwanska was born in Krakow, Poland on March 6, 1989. She is 5’8’ tall and weighs 56 kgs. She turned pro in 2005. Her skills at opening the court are comparable to those of Martina Hingis. She defeated Angelique Kerber to achieve her first major final at the 2012 Wimbledon. She lost to Serena Williams in a three-set final. Her sister Urszula is also a pro tennis player and both received coaching from their father Robert.
9. Marion Bartoli
Marion Bartoli was born Le Puy en Velay, France on October 2, 1984. She is 5’7’ (1.7m.) tall and weighs 63.2 kgs. She turned pro in 2000. She is number one French tennis player. She has defeated three world-renowned tennis players. She has defeated Justine Henin in the semi-finals of the 2007 Wimbledon championships, Jelena Jankovic in the 2009 Australian Open, and Victoria Azarenka in the 2012 Sony Ericsson Open. She has also defeated Venus Williams and Serena Williams. Her playing style is unique in that she uses both hands in her forehand and backhand swings. She ranked the World’s #7 on January 30, 2012.
10. Jo-Wilfried Tsonga
Jo-Wilfried Tsonga was born in Gingins, Switzerland on April 17, 1985. He is 6’2’ (1.88 m.) tall. He is right-handed, and his playing style is a two-handed backhand. His highest ranking was #5 on February 27, 2012. He started his 2012 season as a #3 seed; considered the third strongest player on the field by the tournament committee. He defeated Malek Jaziri in the first round and defeated Flavio Cipolla in the second round. In the quarterfinals he defeated Albert Romas to meet #2 seed Roger Federer who announced an unexpected withdrawal due to a back problem extending to Tsonga a walk over to the final.
The ranking of players is subject to change, and the top tennis players of one year may not be necessarily the top players of the following years as well. This, however, does not mean that it is their ranking of one year only that counts. It is their overall performance that counts, and many players leave their indelible imprints on the pages of history as a result of their overall performances. The 2012 inductees to the International Tennis Hall of Fame include: Gutavo ‘Guga’ Kuerten in the recent player category, Manuel Orantes in the Master Player Category, and Thomas ‘Randy’ Snow in the Wheelchair Tennis Champion and Leader Category.