Saturday, May 15, 2010

DVD Review: Kings of the Court - The Ten Greatest Tennis Players of All Time

Documentary by Tennis Classics Production Company (1997), published in cooperation with the International Tennis Hall of Fame, Newport R.I. Produced by Ed Atkinson. Narrated by John Forsythe. Running time: 88 Minutes

Players Showcased:

*Bill Tilden
*Ellsworth Vines
*Fred Perry
*Don Budge
*Bobby Riggs
*Jack Kramer
*Pancho Gonzales
*Frank Sedgman
*Lew Hoad
*Rod Laver

This is an amazing historical DVD which profiles ten of the greatest tennis players in history - the Kings of the Court - from the Roaring 1920s to the Dynamic 1960s, against the backdrop of John Forsythe's magnificent narration and an evocative musical score. It showcases rare and previously unpublished video footage of Big Bill Tilden, Don Budge, Jack Kramer, Lew Hoad, Pancho Gonzales and Rod Laver. The DVD also includes extensive and exclusive interviews with Budge, Kramer, Riggs, Laver and others.

The DVD presents an incredible close-up look at some of the greatest strokes in history by the ten of the all-time top players - the Budge backhand, the Gonzales serve, the Vines overhead, the Kramer volley and many others. And it offers some compelling insights into the games and accomplishments of these history-making players. It should probably be part of any tennis history student's private library to enjoy for many years...

Best, Gary


  1. Very cool Gary. I think it is important to note the service motion as shown in your included clip. Notice how the right foot steps into the court and the left stays planted on the ground. This brings up the issue once again about when and why this changed. Notice in all the modern serves that the left foot leaves the ground and lands into the court instead. I would really like to study the mechanics of this discrepancy in the service motion. I'm wondering what you see from other servers of this era.

  2. Thanks, Ron.

    I think that this is called the old "foot fault rule". As I understand it, no part of the server's body could touch the line or even cross into the court until the ball was actually struck.

    They changed the rule in 1959, mostly because Pancho Gonzales was dominating the serve game at the highest levels with raw power, and mostly to allow more power on the serve by more players to compete with Pancho.

    As we know, the new rule allows servers to jump into the court before the ball is struck or as it is struck, as long as they start behind the line, in theory allowing for more power, though perhaps less accuracy for some players. This resulted in the left foot entering the court first, rather than the right foot as under the old rule and system.

    But people like Gonzales, Jack Kramer and many others still had history-setting serves under the old rule, so maybe it doesn't really matter if right or left foot enters the court first, as long as the motion is natural and fluid for the server.