Lucie Hradeckdof the Czech Republic serves the ball to Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna of India during the bronze-medal mixed doubles match of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 2016.

Lucie Hradeckdof the Czech Republic serves the ball to Sania Mirza and Rohan Bopanna of India during the bronze-medal mixed doubles match of the 2016 Olympics in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, August 2016. Hradeckdand her partner, Radek Štěpánek, won the match in two sets, 6–1 and 7–5. Doubles tennis provides a more moderate cardiovascular workout, while singles tennis is considered more vigorous since players have a wider area of the court to cover.


Tennis is played worldwide for recreation and cardiovascular exercise. It is also an Olympic sport and a popular spectator sport played by celebrity professionals, with four Grand Slam tournaments: the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the U.S. Open.


Tennis is played by millions of people around the world, of all ages, both genders, and every ethnic and socioeconomic class. Among Americans, 3.7% of males report playing tennis, including 5.7% of those aged 18–29, and 2% of American females play tennis, including 3.1% of those aged 18–29.


Tennis in some form dates back several thousand years. Older forms of tennis were played on an indoor court and are sometimes referred to as real tennis or royal tennis. It was considered one of the “sports of kings.” Modern tennis originated in Birmingham, England, in the 1860s, when Major Henry Gem and Augurio Perera combined the game of indoor racquets with the Spanish ball game pelota and adapted it for play on a croquet lawn. In 1874 they founded the first tennis club at Leamington Spa, England. Originally popular with upper-class English-speaking peoples, tennis eventually spread around the world. The rules of the game have changed very little since the 1890s.


Tennis is a two- or four-person, noncontact, weight-bearing, high-impact activity. Singles tennis is considered vigorous or heavy exercise—exercise during which it is possible to say only a few words before catching one's breath. Doubles tennis is considered moderate exercise—exercise during which it is possible to talk, but not sing. Tennis is a sport that requires sharp sudden turns, called cutting activities. It is less helpful for improving cardiovascular endurance than some other exercises, since it involves a great deal of starting and stopping. It is not necessary to play a game of tennis to reap its exercise benefits: an individual can practice serving and hitting a tennis ball against a wall and perform tennis drills.


Born in Basel, Switzerland, on August 8, 1981, Roger Federer started playing tennis at age eight. His parents, who were weekend amateurs, got him interested in the game, but he took it to another level. In 1998, Federer won the Wimbledon junior title and finished that year as the number–one junior in the world. He also reached the finals at the U.S. Open and semifinals at the Australian Open, and took the title and the Orange Bowl in Miami, Florida. In 1999, he was the youngest player—at 18 years, four months—to finish in the top 100. He advanced to his first Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) semifinals in Vienna, Austria, and went on to quarterfinals in Marseille, France; Rotterdam, Netherlands; and his hometown of Basel. In 2000, he was the number-two-ranked tennis player in Switzerland and lost the bronze medal at the Olympic Games that year to Arnaud Di Pasquale.

In 2001, Federer broke seven-time champ Pete Sampras's 31-match Wimbledon winning streak in the fourth round. Up to this point, Federer had never made it past quarterfinals at a Grand Slam tournament. Also, his stunning performances were often followed by massive upsets. For instance, after showing up Sampras, he lost three firstround matches at majors, including at Wimbledon in 2002, the Australian Open in January of 2003, and the French Open in May of 2003. The Wimbledon loss was a huge setback because it was in straight sets against Mario Ancic, ranked number 154 in the world. However, he snagged a Tennis Masters Series shield in Hamburg, Germany, in 2002 and qualified for the Tennis Masters Cup later that year in Shanghai, China. He reached the semifinals with a perfect 3–0 record before losing to eventual victor Lleyton Hewitt in three close sets.

Federer captured four titles in the first half of 2003 at Marseille, France; Dubai, United Arab Emirates; Munich, Germany; and Halle, Germany. The 2003 Wimbledon win finally put an end to questions of whether he could overcome his anxiety to capture a major title. After beating fifth–seeded Andy Roddick, he advanced to his first Grand Slam final. On July 6, 2003, he triumphed over Mark Philippoussis, 7–6 (5), 6–2, 7–6 (3). Following Wimbledon 2003, Federer lost to David Nalbandian at the U.S. Open in September in their fourth–round match. Later that month, he fell to Hewitt at the Davis Cup final as well. However, in October he bounced back by successfully defending his CA Trophy against Spain's Carlos Moya. This was his sixth ATP title of the year, and he set a new record for ATP best season with 67 wins, 14 losses. In addition, it put Federer in a three–way tie with Roddick and Spaniard Juan Carlos Ferrero for the year-end ATP number-one spot.

Federer finished as ATP World Tour Champion for the fifth time in six years in 2009. He became the all-time leader in men's tennis with 15 Grand Slam singles titles with his seventh straight Wimbledon final, defeating Roddick. He also took four titles in the season and earned his fifteenth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 crown in Madrid and his sixteenth in Cincinnati, Ohio.

During the 2010 season, Federer took five titles and finished in the top two. He won his sixteenth Grand Slam at the Australian Open but lost at Wimbledon in the quarterfinals. In August he won his seventeenth ATP World Tour Masters 1000 trophy in Cincinnati, tying Agassi. He lost in September at the U.S. Open, but won his sixty-fourth tourlevel title in Stockholm. Federer opened the 2011 season with a January win in Doha, his third win there. He lost at the Australian Open and tournaments in Dubai, Indian Wells, Miami, and Monte Carlo, then went onto the clay courts of Madrid, hitting a personal best 25 aces on clay, though falling in the semifinals. He continued in this vein, losing at Wimbledon, Montreal, Cincinnati, and the U.S. Open. The week after the U.S. Open, however, he helped Switzerland gain a place in the 2012 Davis Cup World Group with a victory over Australia.

Ferderer suffered from a back injury in 2013, but came back strong in 2014; making the Winbledon finals that year, but was defeated in a five-set match. He won his 1000th match in Brisbane in 2015 and in 2016 he was sidelined with a knee injury. The year 2017 found the tennis star winning the Miami Open and of course he contiunes to support and work for his charitable organization: The Roger Federer Foundation.

Achilles tendon—
The strong tendon joining the calf muscles to the heel bone.
Strenuous physical exercise that results in a significant increase in respiration and heart rate.
The large flexor muscle of the front of the upper arm.
Inflammation of a bursa, the fluid-filled sacs located between tendons and bones in the joints.
A unit of energy supplied by food.
A class of peptides in the brain that are produced during exercise and bind to opiate receptors, resulting in pain relief and pleasant feelings.
Plantar fasciitis—
Inflammation and pain under the heel.
Repetitive stress or strain injury (RSI)—
A musculoskeletal injury, such as tendonitis, caused by cumulative damage to muscles, tendons, ligaments, nerves, or joints from highly repetitive movements and characterized by pain, weakness, and/or numbness.
Inflammation of a tendon.
Tennis elbow—
Inflammation and pain over the outside of the elbow, usually resulting from excessive strain on and twisting of the forearm; also called lateral epicondylitis or tendonitis of the elbow.


A thorough warm-up should precede a game of tennis, such as jogging around the court for 5–10 minutes, followed by warm-up play. Gradual stretching exercises for the wrist, such as wrist curls, are excellent exercises for tennis.


A tennis racquet and tennis ball are necessary pieces of equipment for all players. Some individuals choose to wear loose-fitting clothes designed for tennis activity, and many wear sweatbands during play, as well. Good-fitting, rubber-soled footwear is necessary to be worn on the court surface.

Tennis courts can be indoors or outdoors. Most communities in the United States have public tennis courts as well as private tennis clubs. Professional tennis is played on four types of surfaces: clay; hard surfaces such as acrylic, asphalt, or concrete; grass; and carpet or artificial turf. Each of these surfaces differs in the speed and height of the ball's bounce.

The tennis court also includes a specially designed net, which divides the playing area.

Training and conditioning

Tennis can be played by anyone who can hold a racquet. It can be adapted for children and adults of almost any age and type of disability, including those in wheelchairs.


There are some risks of injury associated with tennis. These injuries often occur because:

To avoid these and other risks tennis players should:

Repetitive stress injuries (RSIs) or overuse injuries are a major risk of playing tennis. Tennis elbow or tendonitis of the elbow is inflammation and soreness or pain on the outside (lateral) side of the upper arm near the elbow from the repeated motion of the wrist or forearm. Tennis elbow is often caused by damage to a specific muscle of the forearm. There may be partial tearing of the tendon fibers that connect muscle to bone at or near their point of origin on the outside of the elbow. For example, during a groundstroke in tennis when the arm is straightened, the extensor carpi radialis brevis (ECRB) muscle of the forearm helps stabilize the wrist. When the ECRB becomes weakened from overuse, microscopic tears can form in the tendon.

Other types of tennis RSIs include:

Techniques for avoiding tennis injuries include:


Athletes who play tennis are at risk for stress fractures. These are small cracks in a bone resulting from the repeated stress of the feet striking the ground. A change in the playing surface, such as switching from a grass court to a clay court, increases the risk of a stress fracture.


Tennis is a weight-bearing, bone-building exercise. It is an aerobic activity that works the large muscles of the arms, legs, and hips and raises the heart and respiratory rates. A 160-lb (73-kg) person burns about 584 calories in one hour of singles tennis. A 200-lb (91-kg) person burns about 728 calories and a 240-lb (109-kg) person burns about 872 calories in one hour of tennis. Tennis can increase production of endorphins—brain chemicals that create feelings of pleasure and reduce stress.

See also Bone health ; Fracture .



American Sports Education Program. Coaching Youth Tennis, 4th ed. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2008.

Drewett, Jim. How to Improve at Tennis. New York: Crabtree, 2008.

Powell, Mike. A Game to Love: In Celebration of Tennis. New York: Abrams, 2011.

Roetert, Paul, and Mark Kovacs. Tennis Anatomy. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2011.

Sampras, Pete, and Peter Bodo. A Champion's Mind: Lessons from a Life in Tennis. New York: Crown, 2008.

Woods, Kathy, and Ron Woods. Playing Tennis After 50. Champaign, IL: Human Kinetics, 2008.


Tagliafico, Alberto Stefano, et al. “Wrist Injuries in Nonprofessional Tennis Players: Relationships with Different Grips.” American Journal of Sports Medicine 37, no. 4 (April 2009): 760.


Ma, C. Benjamin, et al. “Tennis Elbow.” MedlinePlus. September 8, 2014. (accessed January 19, 2017).

“Tennis Court Safety.” OrthoInfo. October 2007. (accessed January 19, 2017).

“Tennis Elbow (Lateral Epicondylitis).” OrthoInfo. July 2015. (accessed January 20, 2017).


American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons, 9400 W. Higgins Rd., Rosemont, IL, 60018, (847) 823-7186, (800) 626-6726, Fax: (847) 823-8125,, .

American College of Sports Medicine, 401 W. Michigan St., Indianapolis, IN, 46202-3233, (317) 637-9200, Fax: (317) 634-7817, .

American Council on Exercise, 4851 Paramount Dr., San Diego, CA, 92123, (858) 576-6500, (888) 825-3636, Fax: (858) 576-6564,, .

American Medical Association, 2801 NE 50th St., Chicago, IL, 60611, (800) 621-8335, .

American Orthopaedic Society for Sports Medicine, 9400 W. Higgins Rd., Ste. 300, Rosemont, IL, 60018, (847) 292-4900, (877) 321-3500, Fax: (847) 292-4905,, .

International Tennis Federation, Bank Lane, Roehampton, London, SW15 5XZ, UK, 44 020 8878 6464, Fax: 44 020 8878 7799,, .

President's Council on Fitness, Sports & Nutrition, 1101 Wootton Pkwy., Ste. 560, Rockville, MD, 20852, (240) 276-9567, Fax: (240) 276-9860,, .

U.S. Tennis Association, 70 W Red Oak Ln., White Plains, NY, 10604, (914) 696-7000, .

Margaret Alic, PhD
Revised by Laura Jean Cataldo, RN, EdD

  This information is not a tool for self-diagnosis or a substitute for professional care.