Photos of Tennis Players in Mid-Action That Will Make You Double-Take

With the U.S. Open Championships in full swing, we wanted to take a look at some of the most intense and perfectly captured moments in tennis. Incredible, hilarious, or down-right embarrassing, here are our must-see photos of tennis athletes at maximum exertion!

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These professional players push their bodies to the limit, inspiring awe and admiration in millions of people. That’s why at Popular everything, we’re bringing you some of the priceless photos that catch our tennis favorites in questionable moments. Thanks to the talented sports cameramen and women, they’re immortalized forever!

Crawling on Court Must Be a Low Point

Russian tennis superstar Maria Sharapova would probably rather forget this moment for a couple of reasons – luckily someone was on hand with a DSLR camera to forever immortalize it. She takes an unexpected fall in Rome, Italy, when competing against the Danish Caroline Wozniacki during her semi-final match.

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We love the desperation of this moment; Sharapova’s futile attempt to reach the racket, pulling her head up off the floor, legs akimbo. She went on to finish as world No. 4 player in the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) by the end of the year, so it was all uphill from here at least.

A Match so Intense You Hold Your Breath In

Italian tennis player Tathiana Garbin is probably best known for her unexpected defeat of then world No.1 champion, Justine Henin, in 2004. Here she is in a perfectly-timed photo that shows just how committed to the moment she really is!

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This awesome shot was captured in Brisbane, Australia, during her 2009 quarterfinal against French opponent Marion Bartoli, who clearly proved to be quite a challenging competitor for the Italian. Day five of the Brisbane International, it’s clear she met her match with her European neighbor.

Business as Usual for Taylor Dent

You’re probably thinking that this is just un unfortunate picture in Taylor Dent’s catalog. Maybe you’re assuming we’ve just chosen his most unflattering photo from his professional career. In actual fact, this is simply how Dent looks when he serves and is one of many similar photos. Astonishing, we know…

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Having reached a singles-ranking of World No. 21, his tennis prowess did not go unnoticed. Apparently, Dent has undergone a lot of back and groin problems that have prevented his career in the past, of which he received back surgery for in 2007. It’s not taking much of our imagination to see why…

Rafael Nadal Sweats His Way to Victory

Wow. While not his most flattering photo, the currently ranked No. 2 tennis player in the world by the ATP shows how hard he works to hold his title! Here, Rafael Nadal shakes his head sweat away during a 2015 Wimbledon match in which the summer sun just wouldn’t let up.

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Sticking out the London heatwave paid off for the Spanish star, however, as he went on to win this match against Brazil tennis player Thomaz Bellucci. Despite evidence to the contrary, Roger Federer spoke out about the heat that day, countering claims that it was too hot. “It was totally fine,” he said, adding, “It was perfect conditions, to be honest.” 

Diatchenko’s Braid Has a Mind of Its Own

Russian tennis champ, Vitalia Diatchenko always keeps it stylish on and off the court, but that doesn’t mean she doesn’t flash some funny faces while in the heat of a match. Here she’s caught looking a little stressed out during her Wimbledon match in 2015. These less than photogenic moments pay off though, considering just a few years later, Diatchenko managed to beat the former world No .1 Maria Sharapova at the 2018 Wimbledon tournament.

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Vitalia also won her first WTA singles title at the Tashkent Open in 2011, beating Greek player Eleni Daniilidou. So far she has won 14 international Tennis Federation titles and something tells us we will witness her rack up, even more, wins in the future.

When You See the Ball Too Late

Have you ever wondered how you would react if you saw a tennis ball flying towards your face? Andy Murray was lucky enough to have this apprehensive moment captured – we can feel the fear through the screen! We love his horror-struck face as he comes to realize his impending doom…

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Looking like a deer caught in the headlights, it isn’t the first awkward photo of the British Olympic champion as we’ll come to reveal later in the article… This picture even made rounds on the internet, being widely shared in memes and GIFs on social media!

Leaving Behind Years of Training

Ah, a great moment in Tennis history. Sometimes you just have to forgo the racket all together and just get your hands dirty. Switzerland’s Stanislas Wawrinka takes a literal approach, attempting to serve the ball back with the palm of his hand! To top it off he’s planted firmly on the ground bringing to our mind a toddler in a sandpit!

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Playing against France’s Jo-Wilfried Tsonga during the French Open tennis in Paris’s Roland Garros stadium, Wawrinka was obviously feeling rather desperate when he dropped all his tennis education and just tried to hit the target by any means necessary. Unfortunately for the Swiss professional, Tsonga won this match…

Wind-Swept Glamour Featuring Marcos Baghdatis

Having retired only recently in July of this year, Tennis player Marcos Baghdatis is known for his easy-going personality and sense of humor – something which is apparent in this action-shot. He managed to achieve this jowly, hang-dog look during a match, a change from his infectious smile.

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The goofy Cypriot is well-known for his mop-like hair and often unshaven appearance. Despite his less than refined appeal, he was still ranked No. 8 World Champion in 2006. He also became the runner-up at the 2006 Australian Open and semifinalist at the Wimbledon Championships the same year.

Simona Calls out for Halep

Romanian player, Simona Halep looks a little uneasy as the tennis ball heads her way at the 2018 French Open. Nothing can stop Halep, however, as she maintains her A-game during the final against Sloane Stephens. A broken nose was avoided and Halep went home victorious, winning the final against Stephens.

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This was one of many wins for the tennis champion. She has held her own as the world No. 1 in singles between 2017 and 2019. In addition to the 2018 French Open, she has also won two Grand Slam titles as well as the 2019 Wimbledon Championships.

A Mouthful of Racket for Vera Zvonareva

It might surprise you to learn that there’s an existing narrative of biting in sports, frowned upon and grounds for disqualification when used against other athletes in sports like boxing. But surely there isn’t a penalty when it’s aimed at your racket? You know what they say, a bad workman blames their tools…

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In actual fact, Zvonareva is an accomplished tennis player, achieving a career-high ranking No. 2 in the world by the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). Still, even professional athletes lose their cool. Here, Zvonareva is pictured in her 2010 Charleston final against Samantha Stosur, where she kicked, bit and smashed her racket in frustration at losing!

Andy Murray Accepts He Used to Look like This

Yes, this really is Andy Murray back in 2008. Just 21 years old and competing in the Australian Open tennis tournament in Melbourne, he was giving undivided attention to the ball hurtling towards him. It can be assumed that the audience’s focus was on the ginger mane hopping around the court.

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Murray proved not to take himself too seriously when he posted this photo on Twitter recently with the caption “Still can’t believe I survived getting struck by lightning. Thinking about bringing back this look. Yes or no?” He also reposted it to Roger Federer when he asked Murray for curly hair tips…

Redefining the Term Cool Hand Louk

This isn’t the first time that Irish former professional tennis player, Louk Sorensen was caught sporting strange faces during his match. Here he is back in 2010 during the Australian Open in Melbourne. It was then that Sorensen became the first player representing Ireland to win a Grand Slam match in the Open Era.

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Unfortunately, after suffering from a few tennis-related injuries, Louk was forced to retire and has since begun coaching. Luckily though, we still have plenty of funny faced moments from his career forever captured in photographs.

Anna Kournikova’s Hairstyle Is a Liability

If your ponytail has the chance of whipping you in the face or obstructing your vision during an intense tennis match, maybe it’s time to opt for a different style on court. This perfectly-timed shot captures Russian tennis sensation Anna Kournikova with a hair-plait mustache as she catches a serve.

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Playing against the Boston Lobsters in a women’s double match at
World Team Tennis action, Massachusetts, the retired pro tennis player does a good job of showing us what not to do. Despite never winning a singles title in her career, Kournikova did become a huge tennis star and celebrity, peaking in the 2000s.

Novak Djokovic Is Not Above Beating up His Racket

At this point, it’s common knowledge that Serbian current No. 1 Novak Djokovic has a temper and can’t seem to control it, even in front of an audience! He appeared to completely lose it when he lost to Andy Murray in the Shanghai Masters final in 2012, taking out his rage on his racket.

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Djokovic smashed the racket to the floor three times before he chucked it at his bench. Earlier this year he revealed his regret at such violent displays, adding: “I try not to do it, but when it gets to that point and it happens, I feel regret. I tend to forgive myself for it – we are all humans, we all make mistakes.”

Jazz Hands for The Win

French tennis player Richard Gasquet certainly strikes an interesting pose as he hits a ball. This isn’t just a one-time thing though. Awkward snaps have become a norm for the tennis star. Here he is in 2012 displaying his unique forehand technique in the Master 1000, Paris.

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Despite earning the No. 7 title in the Association of Tennis Professionals in 2007, we don’t think he’d look all that out of place on Dancing with the Stars, where his jazz hands and enthusiasm might be better appreciated. Who knows, maybe he’s saving that pleasure for retirement.

Serena Celebrates Win in Accidental Splits

Playing in the Women’s 3rd Round match during the U.S. Open in 2015, tennis legend Serena Williams is overcome with joy after realizing she won against Bethanie Mattek-Sands (also American). Here she is showing off her incredible flexibility. Accidentally falling into a split position to reach the ball, she delivered the serve that secured her win.

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Despite her muscular build, she has displayed her impressive gymnastics skills countless times before, extending into the splits in moments of quick-thinking. However, capturing her athleticism during an unexpected celebratory moment makes for a rare and special photo in Tennis.

UK Prime Minister Doesn’t Do Britain Proud

Unfortunately for Great Britain, these less than flattering photos of current Prime Minister Boris Johnson exist and don’t achieve much in the way of British patriotism. Playing at the celebrity tennis match for the Rally Against Cancer cause in 2013, he unashamedly participated and gave it his best shot.

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His love of the sport is well-documented having declared, “I love tennis with a passion.” He certainly did seem keen to show off his – as The Daily Telegraph put it – “oafish efforts”, pulling a variety of goofy faces throughout the match. Let’s hope the new Prime Minister sees better days.

Jo-Wilfried Tsonga Shows His Animal Side

After repeated mistakes in day three of the 2008 Masters Cup, Jo-Wilfried Tsonga bites a tennis ball in his frustration. Unlike Vera Zvonareva’s racket biting, Tsonga throws his head back, eyes closed and ball in mouth, like a carnivore that caught his prey.

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The French silver medallist couldn’t suppress his animalistic side after missing a point against Juan Martin del Potro. He has exhibited this habit before and with an equal amount of aggression… Such behavior will have surely shocked the audience in Shanghai that day!

An Awkward John McEnroe Hops to It

American tennis champion John McEnroe is known for his confrontational character on the court, often arguing with umpires and getting on the wrong side of the tennis authorities. However, in this photo from the 1980 U.S. Open, he cuts an unusually timid figure, hopping to the ball with an anxious expression!

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Considered by many to be the greatest tennis player of the 20th century, he has recently been portrayed by actor Shia Labeouf in the 2017 film Borg/McEnroe. The film, a sports drama depicts the infamous rivalry between himself and Swedish tennis pro-Björn Borg, especially around the time of this photo.

If You Don’t Want to Stand Out, Opt for Hot Pink

Czech’s Jana Novotna is pretty in pink during day 12 of the French Open in Paris. This beautiful shot captures her ballerina-like elegance among a striking fuschia backdrop and matching tennis getup. What are the chances she chose this outfit specifically?

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Novotna leans far back for a serve in the women’s double match, where she played alongside U.S. tennis player Martina Navratilova. It’s not every day that you see a tennis court this color, let alone a dress to match!

How Did He Explain This One

British tennis player James Ward fell headfirst over a net… with his body on the other side. This awkward photo proves that even a former world ranking No. 2 professional player can have those hard to explain moments on the court. Hopefully, he forward-rolled his way out of that one…

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At 6 ft 3 in, it must have been an odd sight to see the Brit bent over double, almost straddling the net. He was playing against the Croatian Ivan Dodig in at the Queen’s Club Championships in west London. We’re sorry to hear he suffered this blunder on his home turf!

France’s Nicolas Devilder Transforms Into the Hulk

This terrifying photo looks straight out of a comic book as Devilder clenches his fist and bares his teeth! French tennis player Nicolas Devilder reacts surprisingly to winning a point in the Men’s Singles 2nd Round tennis at the French Open tennis tournament in 2012.

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Looking worse for wear, Devilder was up against the German tennis player Michael Berrer, competing in Paris at the Roland Garros stadium. We don’t know about you, but we can’t really tell if he is happy about winning the point!

Skill Unlocked: Tennis Levitation

Jamaican-German Dustin Brown has managed to make professional tennis look as easy as reclining, in this incredible action shot where the comedic player flies through the air and was caught at the perfect moment on camera! We haven’t seen anyone sore through the air so horizontally!

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This picture manages to capture Brown’s quickness, readily throwing himself across the court. He is known for his unique tennis techniques and speed, as well as for playing up to the crowd and being humorous in between matches. You might find him playing trick shots if you go to watch him live!

Stephens Looking Fierce

With six WTA singles titles, becoming the 2017 U.S. champion and ranking No. 3 in the world after Wimbledon in 2018, Sloane Stephens is raking up quite an impressive resume. The American tennis champion, currently ranked in the top 20 by the Women’s Tennis Association is surely a force to be reckoned with.

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We figure with that track record, she’s going to throw in a funny face here and there. Especially during an intense match such as the one pictured here at the 2015 Wimbledon tournament. We are happy to report that among these action shots, we also have some shots of Stephens smiling in celebration.

Man Down…

Oh dear… poor Jo-Wilfried Tsonga took a hit to a sensitive place back in 2012, in a serve from Andy Murray during Wimbledon. And it top it all off, he lost the match! We’re not surprised frankly, seeing as he got a bit more than he bargained for during this particular match!

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Caught in a less than dignified moment, the French tennis player caught an especially fast ball in his most vulnerable place. After the damage was done, Tsonga fell to the floor in agony! But don’t worry, he recovered enough in a short time to continue on with the game. It’s just a shame he didn’t have anything to show for it except a bruise!

Back-Breaking Dedication

We’re not sure what it is about Novak Djokovic, but he always seems to find himself in the most discombobulating positions on the court. In this rather beautiful capture, he bends himself back so far that together with his racket, he forms a perfect crescent shape! Luckily, his exertion did pay off eventually…

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Despite a particularly bad shot during his against opponent Kei Nishikori, he still managed to secure a win in this match during the 2018 Madrid Open, going on to compete in the rest of the tournament. Impressively, he makes his quirks work for him as he manages to maintain his high-ranking positions!

Sharapova as You’ve Never Seen Her

Pictured during the Australian Open in 2019 in a match against Denmark’s former number one Caroline Wozniacke, Sharapova caught a serve in a manner that looks more home on a basketball court than a tennis court! She looks as if she’s about to drop the hottest slam dunk of the season.

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As well as humourous, it gives us a lot of insight into the concentration these athletes maintain. After 14 years of being at the top of her game, she still manages to contort her body to the bizarre shapes required in professional tennis, in order to perform her best on the court!

On-Court Theatrics

Gael Monfils never disappoints an audience, seemingly always ready to perform for a crowd. In this perfectly-timed photo, he leaps into the air and catches the ball from underneath – and inbetween – his open legs! Truly a man meant for circus acrobatics, right?

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We’re truly in awe of his needless tennis skills, proving you can be one of the top players in the world and still maintain an entertaining style. However, what we like most about Monfils is his refusal to take himself so seriously, making him one of the most charming players around today.

A Rare Moment of Abandon

Roger Federer is surely one of the most composed professional tennis players out there! He usually manages to maintain his poker face in all manner of on-court positions, rarely spotted in an undignified moment. However, he found it impossible to keep his cool after his win against Australia’s Lleyton Hewitt.

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Here, Federer screams in disbelief after securing his defeat of Hewitt during the Men’s 3rd Round at the National Tennis Center in 2009’s US Open. It’s a rare snapshot of Federer completely abandoning his reserved nature and simply letting it all out! And we love it.

The Goofiest Tennis Player

Cyriot Marcos Baghdatis maintains his playful status in this photo which looks straight out of a slapstick comedy skit. Despite his bleeding leg, he manages to make us chuckle in what is possibly one of the worst cases of man-spreading. Let’s hope the ball is headed in a better direction than it had for Jo-Wilfried Tsonga…

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Surely, in a sport that requires a hard ball to hurtle towards you at great speed, this is the least wise position to be in? Limbs akimbo, he leaves his entire torso and – erm, reproductive region – exposed to the serve of his opponent! He should remember that an injured opponent is a beneficial situation for them…

Don’t Count on Him to Learn His Lesson

Sorry to have to break it to you, but more photos of Britain’s Prime Minister Boris Johnson playing tennis exists. Thankfully, they’re just as embarrassing. Here, the most powerful man in the United Kingdom looks as if he’s just seen a ghost in this mid-action shot.

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To be fair to Mr. Johnson, we’re not so sure we’d be that confident on the court if we were him, either. It just further begs the question, why does he keep playing tennis in the public eye? But we won’t give him such a hard time for it, he’s probably got the message by now… you would hope.

When in Doubt, Hurl Your Racket at the Ball

In a photo that draws sympathy, poor Gael Monfils has his racket from his fingers when he accidentally flung it across the court! You can just see in his eyes his shock at the racket betrayal… After how hard he’d worked to get to where he is, this was the last thing he expected to look out for!

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Rather dramatically, however, he actually managed to hit the ball! It was also a moment he was suspended in mid-air as he leaped sideways to catch it. We can’t remember the last time we saw that happen, but then again he is one for theatrics! Unfortunately, he lost the game to Djokovic on this occasion…

Eat Dirt, Djokovic!

If there weren’t enough question marks surrounding Novak Djokovic, just give us one last chance… Here he is in 2014 after his Roger Federer defeat in which he won his second title at Wimbledon and celebrated with a tall glass of…grass. He got down low on the field before sampling some choice blades.

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Djokovic has explained his unusual victory practice: “Actually I didn’t taste anything, to be honest. So I had a nice bite. I thought that there was less grass today than it was a few years ago, so I had a little bit of soil, as well. But nevertheless, it tastes like the best meal that I ever had in my life probably.”

Serena Actually Leaping With Joy

This beautiful shot captures a moment of pure delight for the magnificent Serena William during her fifth U.S. Open title win in 2013. Here we can see her exhibiting an ecstatic reaction to beating Belarusian tennis player Victoria Azarenka and winning the prize of $2.6 million. It was also her 17th singles title in general. She is truly a force in tennis, regardless of gender.

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In this image she literally leaps with joy at her successful defense of the U.S. Open title, so high in the air, she could be floating! If it wasn’t for the racket in her hand we couldn’t tell it’s a tennis shot; her jump was so great it lost all context! It puts us in mind of Olympic diving…