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Remember the days when you’d have to wait until the nightly news to get all of the sports results, as the internet wasn’t a thing and not every game of every sport was covered live?

Well I’m only 23, so I definitely don’t, but the idea of not being able to get the scores and news of my favourite teams at an instant may be my personal nightmare.

Thankfully, I’ll never have to worry about that as smartphones give us access to everything at the click of a button.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m grateful for how things are now, however there is a downside, and that is that all sports are practically covered by the media 24/7, regardless if it’s really needed or not.

In the AFL, despite the season ending a couple of weeks ago, arguably there is more media coverage now during the trade period then there was when actual games were being played.

The NBA is a great sport to watch, but surprisingly, the off court drama, trades and rumours are just as entertaining, and sure, there is only a few months of an off season, but it’s constantly filled with updates about various star players who may or may not be on the move.

In soccer/football, the transfer market means that much like the NBA, there really isn’t a time where the sport doesn’t require constant media coverage.

Tennis on the other hand is completely different. There are no teams, so players can’t make big headline moves or publicly complain about a club in order to grab headlines, and while these other sports have dedicated times that are the ‘offseason’, tennis is essentially a year round sport.

However, the difference between tennis and other sports is it’s a lot easier for fans to casually drift in and out of the sport and not take as dedicated of a following.

Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of die-hard tennis fans who will be up at all hours of the night to watch their favourite player in a match, regardless of what the tournament is. However, the more casual fans will only take an active interest in the sport during the majors.

From the end of the U.S Open this year to the start of the next Australian Open, there is 126 days in between. While there are some big tournaments in this gap (1000 level and Season Ending Tour Finals) it doesn’t peak the interest of the more casual fan, meaning those who are fans of other sports will tend to place more focus on them.

Sure, these fans will always come back during the majors and it’s not the end of the world for tennis, but with other sports being able to draw attention to themselves all year round, there’s no reason why tennis shouldn’t try to do the same.

So, if they can’t use trades and drama as a drawing point, what can they do?

We consume sports media in many ways, but one way that has increasingly become popular recently are documentaries.

Whether it be from Netflix, ESPN or a film company, fans seem to love them, but more importantly, it’s the people who aren’t fans of the sport that enjoy them just as much.

Formula 1: Drive to survive will always be the best example as it got millions of people who have never even thought about Formula one racing in their life, to spend hours watching it.

Even recently, the four part David Beckham series is currently the most watched TV show on Netflix in Australia and now people who weren’t even alive when he was at his peak are claiming him to be underrated.

Love them or hate them, there’s no doubt documentaries work to increase interest in a sport, and that’s exactly why tennis threw their hat in the ring earlier this year when they released Break Point on Netflix.

Although it was done by the same director as Drive to Survive, it certainty didn’t deliver in the same ways, and unfortunately felt a bit underwhelming compared to some of the other great sports documentaries.

There’s a reason why in tennis you’re allowed one fault on every serve, and that’s so there is room for error, meaning that even though Break Point was a swing and a miss, it doesn’t mean it’s all doom for tennis documentaries.

Now there is a season two on the way for Break Point, and it very well could make a huge improvement on the first season, but for me personally, I think tennis needs a different style of documentary.

When it comes to sports documentaries, it feels like there was a shift a few years ago, and instead of covering historical and famous moments from respective sports, most series opt to go for the ‘fly on the wall’, behind the scenes kind of style.

Don’t get me wrong, these are great too, but personally, I enjoy snippets of them more than I do watching the entire episode, and with them all being so recent, it’s not hard to remember what occurred, making them less appealing.

The big risk with these types of series is there is very well the potential for nothing to happen. For example, getting behind the scenes access to Nick Kyrgios as he made the Wimbledon final was great, but imagine if they had followed him this year after he missed every major through injury.

Another factor is with social media, the players do tend to give us a fair amount of access that previously wasn’t possible, and while it’s not as in depth as a documentary, it’s still something.

So what should a tennis documentary be then?

Personally, I like the ones that focus on historical and famous moments, and with a sport that’s been played as long as tennis has, you have plenty to pick from.

One that I would love to see is a series on the Rodger Federer and Rafael Nadal rivalry.

While it has only just ended recently with Federer’s retirement, considering how long it spanned for, as well as the quality of matches the pair played against each other, there is no shortage of content.

It also means that the majority of the people who were around for the pairs whole careers are still alive today and can be interviewed and take part in the series, giving us new information we don’t already know.

This would also give people in my age bracket the chance to see these two in their earlier days, as I was too young to remember when they first became prominent figures.

Historical series may not drive casual fans to watch current games as much as a fly on the wall series, as these players aren’t currently at the forefront of the sport, but they would still enjoy it just as much as anyone else, especially if they don’t know the results of the games as they would essentially be watching them for the first time.

Documentaries are great for sport and will always be the first type of media to retell historic moments and it would greatly benefit tennis to produce high quality ones, especially around this time of the year to maintain interest in the sport, but there is another option too.

King Richard was one of the most popular movies in 2021, and while we may only remember the Oscars that year for Will Smiths slap, his amazing performance in it as the Williams sisters father, that won him the best actor award, did wonders for the sport and in particular women’s tennis.

So why wouldn’t this method work again?

HBO recently made a show called ‘Winning Time’ which was about the 1980’s NBA team the LA Lakers, and even though it was cancelled after two seasons, the show received high praise and behind great acting and writing, it got a lot of people interested in basketball.

You can make the case that tennis is just as, if not more popular worldwide then basketball, so you can’t argue that a similar style show about tennis wouldn’t draw as big of an audience.

Again you could use the Federer and Nadal rivalry as your main focus as who wouldn’t want to watch a dramatized version of that?

Alternatively, one of the most popular sports books ever and a personal favourite of mine, Andre Agassi’s autobiography ‘Open, would make a great TV series, and even if you already know the story, you can’t deny it wouldn’t be entertaining to see it being acted out.

There’s ideas aplenty when it comes a dramatized tennis TV shows based on real life events, and if done right and it had the backing from a major network, it could be not just a great sports series, but a great show in general.

While some might enjoy a bit of off time from tennis, for others, this long period without a major can tend to drag on and it’s like there’s a void to be filled.

Personally, I have no doubt that a documentary or TV show, if done right, would easily help fill this void and while keeping current tennis fans entertained, would also bring in a whole new audience.

So if there are any documentary makers or TV show writers out there trying to think of a new idea, what are you waiting for? There’s plenty of content to make when it comes to tennis.


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