Maybe you’ll catch a training star!
All through the year, tennis players hop from one destination to another for a chance to lift a trophy. Everyone knows about the four Grand Slams—Wimbledon, Roland Garros, U.S. Open, and Australian Open—but there are other monthly events that keep tennis players’ and enthusiasts’ schedules full. The feeling of watching your favorite players hit their signature shots just a few feet from you is indescribable, and you can plan your holidays to coincide with WTA and ATP events happening around you.
You know what would be even better? Watching some practice shots, digging into the history of your players and what made them who they are, and hanging out at their favorite places. There are companies that specialize in tennis tours and sports tourism, but you can start your own research here with these places that are associated with the best tennis players of all time.
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America has given the world the joy of watching icons such as Jim Courier, John McEnroe, Serena Williams, Billie Jean King, Althea Gibson, Andy Roddick, Andre Agassi, and Pete Sampras, among so many others.
During the U.S. Open—the final of the four Grand Slams, the Flushing Meadows-Corona Park in Queens is aflush with tennis players and fans. Named after the trailblazer Billie Jean King, the USTA Billie Jean King Tennis Center plays host to the tournament every year, and you can definitely catch a lot of action (especially if you pay for exclusive access to player areas). Even when the court is not in session (pun intended), you can tour the grounds (don’t miss Althea Gibson’s statue), book a court for yourself, and even get private lessons.
From Miami to Washington, you can attend tons of tennis tournaments in the U.S.—ones that draw the biggest stars of the sport. You can also visit the International Tennis Hall of Fame and Museum in Newport, Rhode Island, which has preserved the history of the sport.
The U.S. is also home to some of the finest tennis academies in the world. The IMG Academy in Florida has produced professional players that have proved their mettle on the circuit, such as Kei Nishikori. In fact, many tennis stalwarts practice here. The campus has 55 courts, so you’re bound to catch a present or future star. If you want to make it a tennis-filled holiday, you can attend a tennis camp with professional training and stay at the hotel to improve your skills.
You can also pay a visit to the Saddlebrook Resort in Tampa, Florida, which has 45 tennis courts including all four Grand Slam surfaces. Here, too, you can run into professional tennis players including John Isner. In the past, Andy Roddick, Jim Courier, Martina Hingis, Pete Sampras, and Jack Sock have hit balls here. Another famous one is the Evert Tennis Academy in Florida, where Andy Roddick, Madison Keys, and Ajla Tomljanović trained.
The most prestigious of the four Grand Slams (arguably) has been hosting Wimbledon since 1877. It’s the only event to be still held on a grass surface and players think of it as an honor to play on these revered courts. But getting to the All England Club isn’t that simple—there is a ballot for visitors (which hasn’t happened since the pandemic), an on-day queue to purchase tickets, and packages with official partner Keith Prowse to get access. It’s truly a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to cheer for your favorites amidst high-profile guests.
If you’re going to attend the tournament, then you should know that many players stay in homes around Wimbledon (including Rafa Nadal and Serena Williams) when they’re playing. It’ll be spectacular to book a home that once hosted a Grand Slam winner.
But even if you don’t get to live your fantasy, you can still tour the museum and grounds of the All England Club, and learn about the game and the players who’ve made it so interesting.
Australia kickstarts the tennis season every year. There are multiple events that happen in the country preceding the Australian Open, so you can catch quite a lot of action if you’re Down Under for New Year. Of course, Melbourne Park, the venue for the Grand Slam is an obvious place to visit. There are 39 courts in all here, and you can watch the best matches on Rod Laver Arena, Margaret Court Arena, and Melbourne Arena, along with practice sessions.
One of the most celebrated contemporary tennis players, Ash Barty, has grown up and trained in Queensland. She started her journey at the age of 4 at the West Brisbane Tennis Centre and went on to give tennis lessons here. In recent years, the now-retired three-time Grand Slam champion has honed her craft at the Queensland Tennis Centre’s Pat Rafter Arena. You can hire courts at the club and even book coaching sessions. Want to hit balls on your holiday elsewhere in Australia? Check out Play Tennis which lets you hire courts at one of the country’s clubs.
The striking clay courts of Roland-Garros in Paris are a dream for tennis lovers. The French Open is a physically demanding tournament given the clay surface, so every point is a hard win. If you’re here during the two weeks of the Grand Slam, you will experience crowds but it will be worth it when you see players sliding on the clay. There are different passes available that’ll put you in close proximity to your favorite sports star. High-profile players (think Roger Federer) have known to have stayed at Park Hyatt Paris-Vendôme in the past, which comes at a high cost if you want to splurge it all.
Along with Paris, Lyon, Marseille, and Metz also host tennis tournaments in the country. They won’t have all the big names in the business, but if you follow French players, you will find some participating in their homeland.
Another chance to spot a star may come at the expensive Mouratoglou Tennis Academy near Nice, one of the best in the world. Famous coach Patrick Mouratoglou has created world-class facilities with 34 tennis courts, three pools, a spa, and a hotel. Legend Serena Williams, who Patrick coaches, often practices here. Another big name that’s associated with this academy is the young star Coco Graff. Recently, Simona Halep was also seen swinging her racquet here, and the academy trained a young Stefanos Tsitsipas, who is quite an ambassador for his coach. Fortunately, there are adult camps at the Mouratoglou Tennis Academy, so you can test your skills.
Do you want to catch Roger Federer hitting his famous backhand? The Swiss superstar has a luxury penthouse in the exclusive address of Le Reve in Dubai and regularly practices at the Madinat Jumeirah Tennis Club at Jumeirah Al Qasr (now Mouratoglou Tennis Center Jumeirah). Christopher Clarey, in his book The Master: The Brilliant Career of Roger Federer, wrote that it is one of the courts he has logged the most years. Federer, who spends winter months away from Switzerland and practices in Dubai, also invites other players to play with him.
Opened in 2020, Mouratoglou Tennis Center Jumeirah is a celeb favorite. Recent years have seen stars Stefanos Tsitsipas, Bianca Andreescu, and Novak Djokovic practicing on these courts. If you’re attending the Dubai Duty Free Tennis Championships, stay at the official partner Jumeirah Creekside Hotel which also hosts a party.
Several tennis players have become residents of Monaco. Daniil Medvedev, Stefanos Tsitsipas, Petra Kvitova, and Caroline Wozniacki call Monte-Carlo home and you can catch many of these players, along with many others, at the Monte-Carlo Country Club. It hosts the Rolex Monte-Carlo Masters in April when you’ll see elite sportspeople in the city.
Tennis legend Rafael Nadal lives in Mallorca, Spain. If you’ve read his memoir, Rafa, or watched any of his interviews, you know he hearts his island and gets back home to Manacor every chance he gets. He has multiple investments in the country, including the Spanish restaurant Tatel in Madrid and Ibiza (with an offshoot in Beverly Hills) and the Italian restaurant TOTO in Madrid.
But the place that should be on your must-visit list is the swanky Rafa Nadal Academy by Movistar. Ace coach Toni Nadal, who trained Rafa, is in charge here, but you’ll see the faces of many other influencers who shaped the 21 Grand Slam winner’s game. You can visit the museum and check out his trophies up, close, and personal. Or, spend a week or a weekend training like a professional athlete and who knows, maybe you’ll spot the man himself in the fitness center or on one of the courts. The academy is polishing a new generation of players and many top athletes drop by for sessions, including Roberto Bautista Agut, Casper Ruud, Felix Auger-Aliassime, Lorenzo Sonego, and Emil Ruusuvuori.
Spain also hosts a round of tournaments every summer including the Mallorca Championships, Madrid Open, and Barcelona Open, so your summer trip to Spain can get sporty with very little effort.