© Ella Ling

Miami 2012 - Serena and tennis balls

Top 10 tennis myths - true or false?


 We look at the top 10 tennis myths. Are these true or false?

Drive-by shootings while the Williams sisters practiced
Venus and Serena’s father Richard has been accused of myth-making, for his stories of drive-by shootings in the ganglands of Compton, Los Angeles, as his girls practised: “Those tennis courts were rotten, tore up, no nets, then they did put nets up and they were steel and they’d go boom, and you’d say another gun was shooting… it was terrible.” But Serena confirmed the account in her memoir, “of sometimes hearing guns going off from shootings nearby”.
True or false? True

Uncle Toni told Rafa to become a lefty
Rafael Nadal plays tennis left-handed but eats, writes and pretty much sleeps right-handed. Because of this, rumour has arisen that his coach and uncle, Toni Nadal, had forced him to play left-handed as a child because he imagined it would give his nephew a competitive advantage. “I always hated playing lefties” Toni says. However, Nadal’s disclosed in his recent biography that he was never forced to play left-handed at all. At a coach’s conference, uncle Toni admitted: “I’m not so intelligent, I just thought he was left-handed, now I know he is right-handed.”
True or false? False

Bjorn Borg had a resting heart rate of around 35 beats per minute
Calmness personified, legend has it that the Swede had a resting heart rate of 35 BPM. A biography of Borg claimed that ‘The Iceman’s’ heart rate was once measured at 38 BPM for a military testing procedure, however it was normally around 50 BPM. A mere mortal has an average resting heart rate of 60-100 BPM.
True or false? True

The grass at Wimbledon has slowed down over the years
“Obviously they’re not the fastest courts anymore,” Roger Federer has said of the lawns at the All England Club. “It was the fastest surface in the world. In my opinion, it got slower,” Novak Djokovic has said. The general consensus among the world’s elite is that the Wimbledon grass has slowed down. False, according to head groundsman Eddie Seaward. “The ball comes off the same speed, but I think it comes a little bit higher. Which gives player around a tenth of a second longer to react.” So the bounce is different, far more even than 20 years ago, but the speed of the grass remains the same.
True or false? False

Andy Murray hates the English
Go on to any message board discussing Murray, and some keyboard warrior will have posted a message about Murray’s supposed hatred of the land of St George. This all dates back to the summer of 2006 when, during a joint interview with Tim Henman, Murray joked that he would be supporting “anyone but England” in the football World Cup. Clearly, tennis players are not allowed to make jokes; that gag was somehow interpreted as a sign that Murray loathed England. What the ‘Anyone but Murray’ jihadists ignore is that Murray chooses to live in England (in the Surrey commuter belt), his girlfriend is English, many of his friends are English, and the majority of his team are English.

At the time of writing, the Facebook Group, ‘Andy Murray hates the English, so we hate Andy Murray’, had more than 3000 members. They may want to reevaluate their membership.
True or false? False.

David Ferrer was repeatedly locked in a darkened cupboard as a junior
This story goes a long way to explaining Ferrer’s fighting qualities today. As a punishment for lack of effort, Ferrer’s coach Javier Piles would lock the Spaniard in a ball store, sometimes for hours on end. “When he didn’t want to work I would lock him up in a dark room of two metres by two metres and I would put a lock on it so he couldn’t get out,” Piles has said. “I would give him a piece of bread and a bottle of water through a small window.” Ferrer now describes Piles as a second father.
True or false? True

Rafael Nadal wears shoes two sizes too small for him
The supposed reason behind Nadal wearing shoes too small for him is for greater movement and turning speed. But Nadal has said this is untrue: “No, this is not true. I am normally a 10-and-a-half and I wear a tailor-made one to play that is a 10. But as I say it is tailor-made so not a real number.” Nadal has enough problems with his knees, without having to try and cope with the added burden of ‘squished toes’.
True or false? False

Andre Agassi hates tennis
“I play tennis for a living even though I hate tennis, hate it with a dark and secret passion, and always have,” Andre Agassi wrote in his autobiography ‘Open’. Is this really true? Does Agassi, a winner of eight grand slam titles, a player who competed until he was 36 and showed such emotion after completing his final match, really despise the game that much? “While I was winning Wimbledon, I felt like I would die. I feared to fail; I feared embarrassment.” Maybe these insecurities help to explain Agassi’s apparent abhorrence of the game everyone loved to watch him play. Even so, we still can’t believe it. Is this a case of the ghost-writer getting carried away? We like to think so.
True or false? False.

Maria Sharapova could have been a lefty
Sharapova is ambidextrous. She plays tennis right-handed but could have just as easily played left-handed if she had preferred. “I’m naturally a lefty. I do a lot of things lefty. I write with my right hand but I throw and kick with my left foot and left hand.” The complete opposite to Rafael Nadal.
True or false? True

Andy Roddick was born into the wrong era
The argument is often made that A-Rod would have been a world beater within a different tennis era. Had Roddick, in his prime, played ten years earlier, he would have competed against the likes of Pete Sampras and Boris Becker. Roddick’s volleying would not have been able to cope in that era, and his groundstrokes do not (and would not) have the impact of a player such as Andre Agassi. Rewind 20 years and equipment would not have allowed Roddick to cause so much damage with his biggest weapon, the serve.
True or false? False

  • Sean

    What a bunch of nonsense. You better believe the courts at Wimbledon have been slowed down! That’s just a bunch of garbage. They’re trying to make all the courts equal. It has hurt the game significantly. Trying to make courts equal is like trying to make boys the same as girls. Boys aren’t girls and girls aren’t boys.

    • paul

      And thank goodness for that.

  • kennygray

    Since Nadal and Sharapova both write right handed and kick left footed how are they complete opposites? It is perfectly natural for people to have a different preferred hand for different purposes – Margaret Court, Martina Navratilova, Thomas Muster, Rafa Nadal, Kimiko Date, Carlos Moya and many lesser known players all write with their non-playing hand.