Has Lockdown given tennis a new boost?
8 July 2020 • By - callumbrunning
This weekend should have marked the opening days of the Wimbledon Championships, not that many of you needed reminding. The summer is swiftly upon us and temperatures in parts of the UK have been soaring to record highs. The lockdown is gradually being eased and sport is slowly making a return to our screens and in our parks.
While the world of sport has been completely shaken up, one guiding light recently has been the re-introduction of tennis on a professional and grassroots level. Even though Wimbledon may be postponed until 2021, tennis courts are filling up and the pros are back on court. So after what was a turbulent season last year in professional tennis, are we seeing a rebirth of the tennis craze in the UK and what will these new circumstances mean for the sport?
The modern era of men’s tennis has been a platform for the so-called ‘Big 4’ of Roger Federer, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and more recently Andy Murray. Each of these have taken the sport to a new level of the professional era and have arguably been responsible for a new wave of tennis fans in the last decade. Wimbledon’s viewing figures have increased year on year since Andy Murray’s first Wimbledon title in 2013 and this trend was likely to continue as the Scottish star was set to make his comeback from injury on Centre court this week.
The game’s rising stars
While professional men’s tennis has been dominated by those same four names in the last 15 years, there are new names on the lips off tennis fans. Potentially a new age of tennis prodigies has begun to show their face on the biggest stage. Dominic Thiem has been challenging the ‘big 4’ for several years now and has reached three grand slam single’s finals in the past 2 years. As well as Thiem, young stars such as Alexander Zverev and Daniil Medvedev have also started to make their mark in the men’s game.
Last year’s season finale at the Nitto ATP Tour took everyone by surprise as young Greek star Stefanos Tsitsipas introduced himself to the international tennis stage. Taking home the ATP Singles title in front of thousands at the O2 Arena. The 21-year-old made his way to the Singles final after defeating tennis legend Roger Federer in the semi-finals in straight sets. After announcing himself to the tennis world, the promising young talent would have been looking to continue his great form at this summer’s Wimbledon championship.
So while the ‘Big 4’ slowly descend from their throne, what does this mean for the popularity of the sport? Will the stars of tomorrow be able to continue their legacy and maintain tennis participation across the UK and the world?
A new tennis craze on the horizon?
These unprecedented circumstances have inadvertently given tennis a platform to thrive. Despite the omission of the Wimbledon championship this summer.
Team sports have been put on hold and even while the Premier League has returned, at a grassroots level, there is still no competitive football being played with a return date yet to be announced. As much as watching sport on TV satisfies a portion of our sports fix – it arguably still does not compare to playing sport ourselves.
It is no wonder that when Wimbledon is on, tennis court bookings increase. When the Snooker world championship is on, snooker halls are full. Watching sport inspires us to play sport and grassroots Tennis is poised to take advantage of the ‘new normal’ we find ourselves in and capitalise on the limited availability of team sports. In the last month already, some tennis clubs have seen memberships double while more and more public courts are becoming available to play tennis for free.
Get on the court this summer!
The BBC are set to play daily classic Wimbledon matches in place of what would have been live coverage of this year’s tournament. While it won’t feel the same, it will give a new generation of tennis fans to soak up some amazing moments in Wimbledon history in the past few decades. Which will hopefully provide motivation to keep up the tennis craze.
So while the big names in the tennis game are slowly losing their monopoly on the sport. There are promising signs for the future ahead in professional tennis, which will no doubt keep the grassroots tennis flame alive and keep our tennis courts full. If you’re looking to book a game soon then click here to find a court near you!