Welcome to Florida Week! As the tours head southeast for the Miami Open, TENNIS.com and Baseline will feature all things Sunshine State. You’ll learn about the personalities, stories, teams and venues that have made Florida one of the tennis capitals of the world. We’ll also be reporting from the Miami Open in Key Biscayne.
As you’ll learn this week, when it comes to tennis, Florida isn’t just a state—it’s a state of mind.
Tennis is as synonymous with Florida as warm weather and beaches. The state has long been home to some of the best professionals to ever lift a racquet. Whether they learned to play their eventual trade on a public court or in an academy, here are five athletes who’ve proven that the Sunshine State is a prime spot for development (even if it may not have been their birthplace).
Evert’s impact on the sport is still felt today, decades after the baseliner developed her game at the Florida public park where her father was a teaching professional. With 18 Grand Slams, the former No. 1 remains one of the most iconic figures in tennis. These days she has an academy in Boca Raton, named after her.
The Las Vegas native first made waves on the professional tour as a teenager coming from the Nick Bollettieri Tennis Academy. It was there that his revolutionary gamestyle was initially harnessed as he rose to No. 3 in the world as an 18-year-old.
From teenage prodigy to cautionary tale to three-time Grand Slam champion and Hall of Famer, Capriati carved a unique path through the game, and her roots were laid in the Sunshine State.
The first of Bolliettieri’s charges to reach the top spot, the Yugoslavian native rode her attacking baseline game to nine Grand Slam singles championships. She built her dream home in Sarasota but sold it in 2015.
The four-time Grand Slam champion and Florida native bashed his way to the Hall of Fame. Over a three-year stretch, he played in seven out of 12 major finals (winning four of them). He's currently residing in Orlando, the home of the new USTA National Campus.