Michael Jordan wore his UNC shorts under his Bulls uniform for every home game. In baseball, you don’t talk about a no-hitter or a perfect game in the making. Hockey players won’t touch the Stanley Cup unless they’ve rightfully won it. Rally caps, anyone?
Athletes are some of the most superstitious people on earth—tennis players included. Some players rely on more than skill and talent to secure the win. We’ve put together a list of the most interesting, bizarre and stinky superstitions and good luck charms you can find on the tennis tour today.
- Richard Gasquet’s Lucky Ball
When Frenchman Richard Gasquet wins a point while serving, he insists on using the same ball for the next point. He’ll even delay play to have it retrieved from the other side of the court. But what happens if the ball ends up in the stands?
- Serena Williams’ Socks
Serena has been known to not change her socks during a tennis tournament—even when she’s en route to winning a two-week grand slam! From the first ball to championship point, she wears the same pair of socks. Mum’s the word on whether or not the socks are washed in between matches.
- Kei Nishikori’s Cold Shoulder
Japan’s Kei Nishikori won’t talk to his parents until his tournament has ended. When he finally calls them, it’s either good news or bad news. As Kei cements himself as one of the best players in the world and routinely goes deeper into grand slams, two weeks is a long time not to talk to mom and dad. Luckily, neither Mother’s nor Father’s day fall on the middle weekend of a slam.
- Karolina Pliskova’s tattoos
2016 US Open finalist Karolina Plsikova stands out on the court with her two Maori-style tribal tattoos—one on her left arm and the other on her left thigh. The Maori are indigenous people that originated in New Zealand. Karolina’s connection to them? There is none. She got the tattoos to bring her luck. Both of her parents and twin sister Kristyna have similar tattoos. Talk about a supportive family!
- Rafael Nadal’s… Everything
Where to begin? Rafa never steps on any of the lines. He always crosses over lines stepping with his right foot first. He takes a freezing cold shower before every match. He remains seated until both his opponent and the umpire are at the net for the coin toss. He keeps two bottles meticulously placed on the ground in front of his chair, always taking a sip of the recovery drink first and then the water. The list goes on and on. The man has 14 grand slams and is one of the greatest players of all time—clearly his routine is working!
Honorable Mention from Yesteryear: Andre Agassi’s underwear (or lack-there-of)
Andre forgot to pack underwear for his trip to Paris for the 1999 French Open. He won his first match playing commando and took it as a good sign. He continued playing without underwear all the way to the final where he beat Andrei Medvedev to claim his first and only French Open title.
Please note, there’s nothing written in the Friend at Court rulebook about the use of good luck charms during a tennis match.
Written by Chris Miller, former marketing and membership manager for the USTA Mid-Atlantic Section.