2020 was a season like no other. Click here to review the top moments from the pandemic-ravaged year.
There has never been another tennis season quite like it. A globe-spanning pandemic disrupted the sport on a scale not seen since World War II, shuttering professional competition—like much else—for an unheard of five months. No Wimbledon. Roland Garros rescheduled for fall. Cincinnati moved to New York. Tournament upon tournament canceled or postponed.
As the world went into lockdown, the familiar view of tennis courts and the sound of balls being struck receded, only to return in a very different form—like Carola and Vittoria, two Italian schoolgirls from the town of Liguria, hitting back and forth from the rooftops of their neighboring buildings.
The video went viral, getting more than 12 million views across social media, and shown by international wire agencies and news networks. An Italian pasta company that sponsors Roger Federer even produced a commercial featuring the pair, surprising them with an appearance by the Swiss star.
"During the lockdown we decided to have a between between the rooftop and another," said Vittoria, with Carola adding, "But we hadn't thought the video would go viral."
But its appeal wasn't hard to understand. It was a sight of the everyday turned extraordinary, as it now often had to be, capturing the ingenuity, daring and determination so needed during this period.
Eventually, the tour returned and professional players again began collecting at events around the world—no small feat in the midst of pandemic. Recreational tennis boomed, fortunately positioned as a sport that could be safely played under these conditions.
But it was Carola and Vittoria who led the way. This far-flung traveling sport, they showed, could still be played while staying at home.