What Are Notable Events in the History of Tennis?

The tennis game has a long and eventful history that every enthusiast, fan, or athlete of the sport should know about. Whether you’re a tennis player or just a fan, the history of tennis makes for an interesting read.

History of Tennis

The Exciting History of Tennis

Tennis, also known as Lawn Tennis, is a racket sport played in two different modes: singles and doubles. The singles mode features one player playing against another while the doubles mode features two teams of two players each. The beauty of the tennis game is that it is not relegated to gender, age, or physical build; practically anyone can play. Provided you can hold a racket, you can learn to play the tennis game – even if you’re physically impaired.

The tennis game and tennis betting have an interesting history, and that is what we are focusing this article on. If you’re interested in playing tennis, whether for fun or professionally, you should familiarize yourself with its history. No, it won’t affect your game if you don’t, but you will better understand where the game is all about. That said, let’s take a look at how the tennis game started and evolved over the years.

Tennis in the Ancient Times

Historians believe tennis’s ancient origin started in northern France in the 12th century when players strike the ball with their palms. It was referred to as jeu de paume, meaning game of the palm, and evolved into real tennis. Louis X of France was a notable keen player of the game and the first person to construct modern-style indoor tennis courts. He was unhappy with playing the game outdoors, which was why he had enclosed indoor courts made in Paris.

Soon enough, the design spread all over Europe, especially in the royal palaces. Not many ancient tennis players are known, but Louis X is the first tennis player in history known by name. That is mostly due to the contemporary account of his death. Meanwhile, King Charles V of France is another one of early tennis game enthusiast; he set up a court in Louvre Palace.

The tennis game continued to be played by hand until the 16th century when rackets were introduced. It was also at this time that people began referring to the game simply as “tennis.” The word, “tennis,” is coined from the French word, “tenez,” meaning hold, receive, or take. The interjection is used during play when a server calls to his opponent.

Although mostly played indoors, the tennis game was popular in England and France and players often hit the ball off the wall. One of history’s big fans of the game, now known as real tennis, was Henry VIII of England. Real tennis declined during the 18th and early 19th centuries and new racket sports emerged in England.

Notable Achievements in Tennis History

Harry Gem and Augurio Perera, along with two local doctors, founded the world’s first tennis club, Leamington Spa, on Avenue Road. This was also the first time a club will use the term, “lawn tennis” as a name for the sport. In 1874, Walter Clopton Wingfield, a British army officer, declared that he had been experimenting with his version of lawn tennis for eighteen months. In 1873, he designed and patented a game, sphairistike (a Greek word meaning ball-playing), which soon became known as “sticky.” 

In 1874, the world’s oldest annual tennis tournament was held in Birmingham at Leamington Lawn Tennis Club. Three years later, in 1877, the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club held its first-ever championships at Wimbledon. A debate was held during the tournament on how the clubs would standardize the rules of the game. In 1880, the first American National championship was held at the Staten Island Cricket Club, New York.

In 1881, the United States Tennis Association, previously known as the United States National Lawn Tennis Association, was formed. The USTA is the world’s oldest nationwide tennis game formed to standardize the rules and organize competitions. The International Tennis Federation, the International Lawn Tennis Federation, was formed in 1913, establishing three official tournaments as major championships. The ILTF promulgated comprehensive rules in 1924, which remained stable for eighty years.

Tennis withdrew from the Olympics in 1924 but returned in 1984, sixty years later, under the then ITF president, Philippe Chatrier, among others. Van Alen established the International Hall of Fame in 1954; it contains a large collection of tennis memorabilia. It also contains a hall of fame honoring prominent tennis players and prominent members worldwide.

Tennis in Popular Culture

Different prominent fiction and non-fiction works have mentioned tennis - even before the game came into existence. For example, William Shakespeare mentioned “Tennis balles” in his play, 1599 Henry V, when King Henry received them as a mockery of his youth. Additionally, David Foster Wallace spoke about tennis in his non-fiction and fiction works, including Infinite Jest and Derivative Sport in Tornado Alley. Also, a Japanese series, The Prince of Tennis, revolves around Echizen Ryoma, a tennis prodigy, and tennis competitions between rival schools.

Many more movies, documentaries, and fictional and non-fictional books have featured tennis. These include the 2005 movie, The Squid and the Whale, the Japanese Manga series, The Prince of Tennis, and the 2004 film, Wimbledon.


There you have it; the controversial but interesting history of tennis to help you understand the game of tennis better. The tennis game has a long history that every lover (or ordinary admirer) of the sport should know. With a good understanding of the tennis game, you can play with purpose and even teach others to play.

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