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 ply their eventual trade on a public court or in the academy setting, below are five athletes who’ve proven that the Sunshine State is a prime spot (and see five more here.)
Venus and Serena Williams
Introduced to the game on a public court in Compton, Calif., it was in Florida where their path to dominance firmly took off. The sisters are still based there and Serena, for one, has made the Miami Open her “home tournament,” winning it eight times.
Born in Russia, but a Florida resident for the majority of her life, Sharapova developed her game in the confines of the IMG Academy setting. She won her first Grand Slam title under Nick Bollettieri's tutelage as a 17-year-old at Wimbledon, and has added four more majors to her collection.
One of the most successful alumni from the Saddlebrook Academy, Roddick went on to reach the top spot in his career and win titles on every surface. His biggest achievement was winning the 2003 US Open. He's the last American male to win a Grand Slam.
Mary Joe Fernandez
Not only did Fernandez dominate Florida’s biggest junior tournament, the Orange Bowl, the longtime resident of the state also carved out a solid career as a professional, reaching three Grand Slam singles finals and peaking at No. 4.