Tennis is gaining a more positive reputation as time goes, and recent studies show that it currently ranks fourth in the list of most popular international sports. Most Popular Sports measured the popularity of certain sporting events by tracking visitor traffic of more than three hundred sports websites.
Using this method, the sport that internet users in a given country are interested in is reflected. Tennis (with 1 billion fans) shares the top spot with soccer (3.5 billion fans), cricket (2.5 billion fans), and field hockey (2 billion). TopEndSports.com also found that the sport is most popular in Australia, France, New Zealand, Switzerland, and the UK, also based on online search traffic.
With the wide reach that the sport has, it’s not surprising if it has influenced different forms of media as well. The oldest and most prestigious tennis competition in the world has been featured in a movie entitled Wimbledon in 2004, and Woody Allen showcased the sport in Match Point.
The music industry is not spared, as there are songs about tennis such as Cream’s Anyone for Tennis, and there’s even a song written about Roger Federer. Comic books were also invaded by the sport, in the form of the famous Prince of Tennis manga created by Takeshi Konomi.
The Prince of Tennis is centered on the life of a high school student named Ryoma Echizen of Seishun Academy and his journey towards being a star tennis player by defeating other talented players belonging to the upper class.
The anime version was well-received not only by fans of the manga but by cartoon enthusiasts as well. Amateur players foraging into comic series are more accepted than professional ones, as the latter seem out of place—for instance, the appearance of Charles Barkley in a Hamilton comic book as well as that of the Dallas Cowboys in a Spider-Man edition was criticized by Betfair.com in its article featuring ridiculous appearances by sports stars in a comic book. Besides, underdogs and ordinary citizens make better characters than established ones when it comes to fiction.
Prince of Tennis is not the only comic with tennis presence—there are numerous comic strips which featured the sport. Mike Peters’ Mother Goose and Grimm made fun of tennis ball fetching, while Hilary Price’s Rhymes with Orange showcased a father-and-son bonding over a tennis match. Jim Toomey’s Sherman’s Lagoon, on the other hand, discussed tennis fashion in one issue. A lot of other fan fiction also features the sport, and tennis will predictably be present in more comics in the future.