A singles or doubles game played usually outdoors on a rectangular court in which players using rackets hit a pressurized ball back and forth over a low net with the object of making a stroke that will land within the court boundaries but that the opponent cannot return.

In other words, tennis is a racket-and-ball sport that can be played between two individuals (singles) or between two teams of two players each (doubles).

Players play on opposite sides of the net and are not permitted to interfere with the movements of their opponents. The object of the game is to maneuver the ball in such a way that the opponent is not able to play a valid return. The player who is unable to return the ball will not gain a point, while the opposite player will.

Play is started with one player, standing behind his own baseline, serving the ball over the net to the opponent so that it lands in the proper service court.

A player scores a point whenever the opponent is unable to make a good return (as in the case of the receiver when the server fails in two attempts to make a legal serve). Both the serving and the receiving sides can score points. Players serve for a game at a time with the serve going to the other player or side in the next game. Serves are alternated on each point first into the right and then into the left service court.

A single contest is a match which consists of a predetermined maximum number of sets, each of which consists of a number of games. A game is won by the first side that wins four points, though it must be by a 2-point margin. The first point in a game is traditionally called fifteen or five, the next point thirty, the next forty and the final point game.

If both sides reach forty so that one side needs to win 2 consecutive points to win the game, the situation is known as deuce.

From deuce, the next point won is advantage (it may be for the server or the receiver). If the side with advantage wins the next point, it wins the game; if the other side wins the next point, the score reverts to deuce.

A set is won by the side first winning 6 games (by a 2-game margin). A match in men’s competition is normally won by the side winning 2 of 3 or 3 of 5 sets; in women’s play and in doubles competition, it is normally the best 2 of 3 sets.

In most major competition a tiebreaker is used when a set is tied at 6 games apiece.

In a tiebreaker, players alternate serves until one side reaches a predetermined number of points (as 5 or 7) at which point he wins the tiebreaker and with it the set.

Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society and at all ages.

The four Grand Slam tournaments (also referred to as the Majors) are especially popular: the Australian Open played on hard courts, the French Open played on red clay courts, Wimbledon played on grass courts, and the US Open also played on hard courts.

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