At the prompting of a good friend I was encouraged to write a piece on the sport of tennis due to my love for the game and being a conversation starter on social media especially when the Grand Slams are being played.
How do I start to write about tennis when I only play tennis on occasions socially? I am neither a competitive player or coach, nor am I closely affiliated to any one who plays on a professional level.
Nonetheless, I will just give an overview of the Slams and a few players. Perhaps next time I will write about how rankings are achieved, basic tennis rules and how they are enforced or not and the manner in which they tend to be violated.
There are four Grand Slams which take place during the year:
1. Australian Open
This is debut of the Slams and takes place Down Under and is played on hard surface at end of January, which is summer in Australia. The reigning champions are Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka.
2. French Open
The FO played on red clay is held in June in Paris at the Roland Garros Stadium. The Spaniard, Rafael Nadal holds the most titles on this tournament, 12 at the June 2019. He is referred to as “The King of Clay”. The current FO champions are Rafael Nadal and Ashleigh Barty of Australia. It is the first Grand Slam title for the Australian.
Wimbledon follows RO closely in July. This tournament is played on grass courts. It is the “Champagne and Strawberry” event. The current title holders on the Gentlemen’s and Ladies’ side (For Wimbledon they say Gentlemen and Ladies) are the Serbian player, Novak Djokovic and Simona Halep of Romania.
The Mother and Final of all Slams for the year, is the US Open which commences the last week in August and culminates the weekend after Labour Day in the Big Apple. This is the only Grand Slam I’ve ever attended.
The current title holders are Novak Djokovic and Naomi Osaka. Djokovic will not be in the finals this year as he retired injured in the fourth round. Osaka lost in the fourth round as well.
On the men’s side the top three players, Novak Djokovic, Rafael Nadal and Roger Federer are still dominating and they have all made it to Round 4. Now that Djokovic has retired, the path is clearer for Nadal or Federer to lift the trophy.
On the women’s side, the “talk of the town” is the 15 year old Coco Gauff, who received a wild card to play in Wimbledon in July and made it to the Fourth Round. On the path there, she defeated Venus Williams. Yes, the oldest player in that tournament fell to the youngest player. Tennis aficionados are comparing Gauff’s playing style and physique to Venus.
One cannot write about tennis and omit the name Serena Williams who has won 23 Grand Slam titles and is currently chasing the 24th. The last GS title she won was at the Australian Open in 2017. She defeated her sister Venus Willams.
How popular is tennis in the Caribbean?
I’m originally from the Caribbean, Trinidad and Tobago, where the sport of tennis is not as popular as cricket or football. Tennis has not as yet produced a Brian Lara or Dwight Yorke.
Professional Tennis players who are from the Caribbean or who have Caribbean roots.
On the Women’s side there is Naomi Osaka who plays for Japan. Her father is Haitian. Sloane Stephens plays from the US Her grandparents are Trinidadian. Monica Puig the 2016 Olympic title holder from Puerto Rico and Sachia Vickery playing for the USA, her parents are from Guyana.
On the Men’s side there is Gael Monfils, clearly the most entertaining player on your plays for France. His mother is from Martinique and father is from Guadeloupe. Darian King is Barbadian. Dustin “Dreddy” Brown has Jamaican roots and Victor Estrella Burgos is Dominican.
Tennis is dominated by Europeans especially Eastern Europeans. North America is well represented as well.
I look forward to the day when Caribbean players begin to break that tennis ceiling in more significant ways.
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