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Following its heyday in the 1970s and 1980s when players such as John McEnroe, Bjorn Borg and Martina Navratilova helped to boost the popularity of the game, tennis saw a decade of decline or flat growth.
A fresh focus on how the sport is taught to beginners, using slower balls, and a push to expand grassroots programmes have revived participation and the number of people playing tennis worldwide has increased significantly over the last few years.
"Tennis is growing because we're changing the way the game is being taught at starter level," said David Miley, director of tennis development at the International Tennis Federation, the sport's world governing body.
A key change was the introduction in 2005 of three different lower compression balls - red, orange and green - which are 75, 50 and 25 percent slower than standard tennis balls, making it easier for beginners of any age to keep a rally going.
More than 30 countries across six continents are now part of the ITF's scheme to promote use of the slower balls.
"We've made a conscious effort to reposition our sport," said Miley. "It's moving a little bit more away from being like learning the piano, where you learn the scales for six months before you ever get to play music, much more towards soccer.
"The first day somebody comes to play soccer they kick the ball, they play the game and no one is telling them all the technical stuff; they are playing."
The United States has seen a sharp increase, with participation up 43 percent between 2000 and 2008 and more players taking to the court last year than at any other time in the past 15 years, the Tennis Industry Association said.
"There have been a lot of grassroots programmes which have helped reach more players on a local level and build more awareness for the sport," TIA president Jon Muir said.
Britain has also seen a boost. A survey conducted by Sport England between October 2007 and 2008 showed the number of people over 16 who played tennis at least once a month rose to 939,500, up 65,500 from the previous survey in 2005/06.
Steven Martens, player director at the Lawn Tennis Association, agreed the use of slower balls and smaller courts for children had helped to get more people involved.
The number of under 18s in Britain competing in six or more tournaments a year has more than doubled to 22,500 over the last 12 months, up from 11,000 at the same point in 2008.
"This has been helped by increasing the quality and quantity of competitions available as well as having a systematic talent identification programme in place," Martens said.
Asia has also seen a growth in participation, with six million people in China playing tennis at least twice a week in October 2008, more than triple the 1.8 million two years earlier, according to the Chinese Tennis Association.
The CTA said last year's Beijing Olympics, where China won bronze in the women's doubles, could give the sport a further boost in coming years.
"We hope there will be faster growth of tennis participation with the help of the Olympics," CTA deputy director Gao Shenyang said.
Gao said that since the Games the CTA had focused on encouraging mass participation by launching an amateur league project and holding promotions in cities across the country.
The growth of tennis appears resilient to the economic downturn, with research showing that sales of balls and racquets have held steady despite the retail sector as a whole struggling.
The TIA charted economic indicators, such as the consumer confidence index, against participation and shipments of tennis equipment and found both continued to increase when the general economy was on a negative trend.
"Tennis has experienced a level of growth unmatched among other sports and participation doesn't seem as impacted by a down economy," said TIA executive director Jolyn de Boer.
John Callaghan, professor of sport at University of Southern California and an expert on the role of sports in society, said compared to other non-team sports, such as golf, tennis had remained popular because it was less expensive.
"Tennis is relatively cheap. A good racket costs less than $200, considerably less in the sales," he said. "And court and club fees are much cheaper than with golf."
According to the LTA, the average cost of club membership in Britain per week is £2.50 ($3.65) for adults and 85 pence for under 18s. As well as 11,000 club courts, there are 10,000 public courts, many of them free.
"The game is so readily available," said Callaghan. "Just get two or four people together and you have a game. Fitness centres have a huge following...but tennis offers more fun, competition and a better social environment."