I’ve heard a few people saying that tennis seems boring these days, as well as having seen a couple of articles about this on quite prominent websites.
I’d thought I’d research the facts about this issue and find out is there evidence that people find tennis boring.
All the evidence suggests that people around the world do not find tennis boring. Tennis viewership of professional tournaments has tripled in the last five years. Tennis is also one of the most played in the world and has a global estimated following of 1 billion people.
It seems there is very little evidence that tennis is becoming boring – in fact, everything seems to be pointing in the opposite direction.
There are more players, more viewers, and more overall fans than at any other point in the sport’s history.
Let’s take a look at 12 telling reasons why tennis definitely isn’t boring.
1. Viewership Is Climbing Steeply
In 2019, Eurosport reported that they had seen a 20% increase in viewing figures for the tennis tournaments that they aired. (Source)
Also, tellingly, these extra viewers were also watching longer – 36% longer to be precise. So an increase in both volume of people, and in the amount of time they were watching.
Also, in 2018, the World Tennis Association reported there was a 20% global increase in tennis viewership from just the year before. (Source)
With millions more people watching the sport each year, surely this says a lot about the fact that tennis simply isn’t boring!
2. Fourth Most Popular Sport On Earth
Another telling fact about tennis is that it is estimated to be the fourth most popular sport on earth. (Source)
There are currently 1 billion people that would describe themselves as tennis ‘fans’. It is only behind soccer, cricket, and hockey (both ice and field combined).
It is popular around the world, but particularly in the United States, Europe, and also parts of Asia, such as China.
3. Many Different Formats
One of the appeals of tennis for those that play it, is that you can access the sport in many different formats.
Pro tennis is mainly 5 set matches for men, and 3 set matches for women.
However, when you play the sport yourself, you could be playing anything from a couple of games to a full five-set match.
Often tennis clubs have events like ‘mix-ins’, where players get to play against several different opponents over the course of one or two hours.
There are also leagues and competitions that will run one set matches, or even the best of three or five games.
There are many people that only play in shortened formats, and it’s hard to get bored when a match is only lasting ten or fifteen minutes.
4. Big Servers Don’t Dominate
One criticism you will hear of tennis is that it is sometimes killed by big servers.
These players use this one weapon to win many fast points on their serve, and can kill off rallies for about half the match.
However, the clear reality is that the big servers of world tennis simply are not the best players.
The modern game is dominated by the ‘big three’ in the men’s game – Roger Federer, Rafa Nadal, and Novak Djokovic. All three have good quality, powerful serves, but they are not the three biggest servers in the game – nowhere near!
Success requires an all-around game of skill, and this will surely continue into the future.
5. High Percentage Of Audience Actually Plays
There are some sports that are mainly watched and not played (athletics, for example, being one).
On the other side of the spectrum, however, are sports that are played by a large percentage of their fans. Tennis is one of these.
There is some evidence that tennis might actually be the sport that is most played by its fans in the whole world. Even if this is not true, the percentage is certainly high.
Fans of any sport that actually play will always have a different slant on events. You see the difficulties being faced by the players in a different way, and it just boosts engagement and interest.
6. No Dominant Strategy
Another wonderful feature that adds variety to tennis is that there is no dominant strategy.
Sure, there are serve and volley experts.
There are clay specialists.
There are long rally exponents.
And all players will have big weapons in their arsenals, such as a topspin forehand, or killer drop shot.
But what is the best way to win in the sport?
The answer is that there have been many players with different styles that have found success in the sport.
There have been serve and volley specialists like Rod Laver and John McEnroe. Also, there have been clay court maestros, with the biggest example being Rafa Nadal.
But, all in all, a wonderful variety permeates through the sport and keeps it fresh and vibrant.
7. All Body Types Find Success
There are some sports that are dominated by players of a certain body type. Very tall basketball players, or tiny horse jockeys.
Tennis is not one of these sports. It is played by players of all different heights, from the super-tall to the extremely petite.
This kind of variety adds to the interest and excitement of viewing and playing against different opponents.
8. Social Side Is Huge
One of the biggest things for people that play tennis, is that the social side is a huge part of the game.
I know lots of people for which the social side is the most important aspect of tennis by far.
Doubles is the most popular form of the game that is currently played, and this also says a lot about what people want out of a game of tennis.
9. Benefits For Mental And Physical Health
Far from being ‘boring’, there is research that has been conducted into the mental and physical health benefits of playing tennis. (Source)
On the physical side, the results of this research were actually quite dramatic, with them finding that..
‘People who choose to play tennis appear to have significant health benefits, including improved aerobic fitness, a lower body fat percentage, a more favorable lipid profile, reduced risk for developing cardiovascular disease, and improved bone health.’
Regarding mental health, another report found that there were strong links between playing tennis, increased confidence, and reduced anxiety. (Source)
10. Game Of Strategy
As well as the physical demands and skills of tennis, it is also a sport with a fantastic mental element as well.
There are so many tactics in each match, and you will see players working out strengths and weaknesses or their opponents, and then trying to exploit these.
No two tennis matches will be the same. There are multiple elements and variables happening in each one.
11. Not One Dominant Player
Some sports are killed off slightly by the dominance of one player or team.
If the winner of any particular event is pretty much predestined before it even begins, then that does not bode too well for engagement from the audience.
Luckily in tennis, that is rarely the case. In men’s tennis, there will often be a big two or big three main players, but rarely has one man dominated every tournament over a long period.
The situation is even more spread out in the women’s game in recent years. There have certainly been periods where a player such as Stefi Graf, or Martina Navratilova have been the dominant force, but even then there were other players that were regularly capable of beating them.
12. Easy To Find Your Standard
For players of tennis, it is also an easy sport to find your standard in. Racket sport contests are interesting in that they are usually always won by the better player.
If you join a club, then it is easy to find our your current level.
This is a major plus point. Playing at too challenging a level for you can quickly lead to despondency, and overwhelm.
Play others that are too poor in standard, and that can quickly lead to boredom.
Luckily, in tennis, this is easily avoided!
To Sum Up
Tennis if flourishing in popularity and engagement around the world. Those that think it is boring should take a look at the facts. Let’s all keep on enjoying tennis, and help it to grow year on year.