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Sat, Oct. 19

Howard: A few weird and strange tennis facts
Column: My Point

In the 144 years that the game of tennis has entertained us there have been some unusual things that have taken place that many players may not even be aware of.

The history of tennis records, inductions into Halls of Fame and great players are fairly well known to tennis enthusiasts, but read on if you want to capture a few things that don’t get a lot of print that you still might find interesting.

1) Did you know there’s a pineapple on the top of the Wimbledon trophy?

2) Did Roger Federer really knock the bottle off a crew member’s head with his serve on a Gillette ad, William Tell style? Roger commented, “A magician doesn’t tell how his tricks work.” Gimmick.

3) It a bit funny to know that Wimbledon was the first major to change from white tennis balls to yellow, seeing they are the most traditional in making players wear basic white, don’t you think? This took place in 1986.

4) Tennis was played in the Olympics in 1896 but removed from competition in 1924. Why? It was due to disputes between the International Lawn Tennis Federation and the International Olympic Committee in allowing amateur players to compete. It was finally reinstated in 1988.

5) Did you know it took until 2007 to finally have all four majors provide equal pay to both men and women? Wimbledon was the last holdout.

6) The fastest men’s serve was recorded in 2012 and hit by Samuel Groth - he registered a 163.4 mph cannonball serve. The fastest women’s serve to date recorded in 2014 was 131 mph and hit by Sabine Lisicki.

7) Did Bobby Riggs really throw the 1973 Battle of the Sexes match to Billie Jean King to pay off major mafia debts? Bobby’s son said maybe, but Bobby went to his grave never saying anything but that Billie won fair and square.

8) The first player to wear tennis shorts at Wimbledon was Henry Austin in 1932.

9) The first women to bring a jolt of sex appeal to the world of tennis and women’s sports was a Californian playing in the 1949 Wimbledon Championships, Gussie Moran. Famous tennis dress designer, Ted Tinling sewed a couple inches of lace to her panties and the rest is history....the world went mad for a while.

10) How many professional tennis players have died while playing a tournament match? None. But on Jan. 12, 2015, a 23 year-old Russian player, Violetta Degfiareva died suddenly while practicing of heart failure. Her highest WTA ranking had been 947 in the world.

11) How many “tennis greats” survived the sinking of the Titanic in 1912? Two to be exact. Dick Williams and Karl Behr. Both went on to be Davis Cup teammates and both later in life were inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

12) April 30th of 1993 was the only incident to date where a tennis player was attacked and injured by a fan. It took place at the Citizen Cup in Germany to the #1 player in the world, Monica Seles. During a change-over in the second set a deranged fan who fancied Steffi Graff (from Germany) came down from the stands to courtside and plunged a 9 inch knife into Monica’s back. Even though the injury wasn’t life threatening, after her recovery and on her return she never regained her old form.

13) What male and female tennis players have won the most Olympic tennis medals? Venus Williams of the U.S. has won five (four gold, one silver) and Reginald Doherty of Great Britain won four (three gold and one bronze.)

Maybe you can email me with the answers to the following questions.

What year did the following local tennis facilities open? The Prescott Racquet Club; the four courts at the Armory; the tennis facility at the old Hassayampa Country Club; the tennis facility at Prescott High School and the original courts at Yavapai College? Where was the first tennis court built in Yavapai County?

Chris Howard is a local USPTA Tennis Professional with over 45 years in the racquet and fitness industry. He can be reached at 928-642-6775 or

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