© Ella Ling

Miami 2012 - Marion Bartoli

How many other geniuses are there in tennis?


Victoria Azarenka’s undefeated run came to an end this week against a player with a higher IQ than Albert Einstein. Marion Bartoli claims to have an IQ of 175, higher than the scores of Plato, Beethoven, Einstein, Bill Gates and Stephen Hawking. “I did the test when I was younger, but I’m not really someone who is telling everyone, ‘Oh, I’m so smart’. I’ve kind of being hiding it,” the Frenchwoman has said. “But that’s how I am. It just comes naturally. That’s what I was born with.”

How many other secret geniuses are there on the men’s and women’s tours? Who are the most intelligent tennis players?

One male player who has had his intelligence tested is Andy Roddick, who has an IQ of 133. The only disappointment for him was that Mrs Roddick, the model Brooklyn Decker, was told she had a score of 136 (“I’m just behind my wife unfortunately”).

Colin Fleming, the British doubles player, has a first-class degree from Stirling University, where he studied economics and finance. The most famous university graduate on the scene is John Isner, who would probably not be the player he is now if he had not attended the University of Georgia. But his time at university was largely a tennis education, not an academic one. The Williams sisters are forever fitting in “college papers” around their tennis.

Perhaps we can judge a player’s intelligence by how many languages they speak. Daniela Hantuchova, the daughter of a computer scientist and toxicologist, is a classically-trained pianist, who also speaks four languages, and who deferred a place at university to play tennis. Roger Federer speaks five languages (German, English, French, Swedish and Italian). Or six if you want to count Swiss German as a separate language.

And which players show an intellectual curiosity beyond the in-flight movie guide? Andrea Petkovic knows her way around Oscar Wilde, Jonathan Franzen and other writers.

And let’s not forget our columnists. Janko Tipsarevic is that rare beast – a tennis player who can quote from Goethe, Nietzsche and Dostoevsky. Dmitry Tursunov, the son of a nuclear engineer and an accountant, lists his hobbies as romantic walks on the beach, cuddling and annoying people. But the ability to make people laugh in your second language is not a skill available to the dumb.

  • http://twitter.com/jonnyboy613 Jonathan Artman

    James Blake went to Harvard, I believe.

  • Kathy

    Roger Federer speaks German, English and French. Since his father is a german speaker and his mother is an english speaker, you would expect that he would  be fluent in both of those languages. He speaks French because he went , as a teenager to an academy in the french speaking part of Switzerland. He does not speak Swedish ot Italian. He was asked to say a few words in Italian at a trophy ceremony and said that he could not because he didn’t speak any Italain. He has not aquired any other language since teenage years, admitting in an interview that he doesn’t understand a word of his wife’s native tongue. Hw was apparently a poor student at school and says his hobbies are shopping, reading magazines and washing his cars.