History of Tennis

Most historians believe that tennis originated in twelfth century France when a ball was struck with a hand and called, “jeu de paume,” or “handball.” However, it was not until the sixteenth century that rackets were used in the game and it was called “tennis.”

The word “tennis,” came into use in the mid-thirteenthcentury from the word “Tenez,” which is   translated to “hold,” “receive,” or, “take.” The first known use of the word was by poet John Gower who used the word, “Tenez,” in his poem “Praise of Peace.”

Back then, tennis was played indoors only and is often referred to by historians as, “Real Tennis.’ Henry VIII of England was a fan of the game.

Many popular competitions that originated from the sport have been The Davis Cup which was created in the 1900’s between men’s national teams. The The Federation Cup was the women’s version of the competition (FED Cup) in 1963 to celebrate the The International Tennis Federation (ITF) 50th anniversary.

Lawn tennis began when a Major Harry Gem, a solicitor, and his friend Augurio Perera, a Spanish merchant, combined elements of the game of rackets and the Spanish ball game Pelota. They played on a croquet field and founded the world's first tennis club, “Leamington Tennis Club.”

Present day tennis comes mostly from Major Walter Clopton Wingfield, who combine the game of Real Tennis, Outdoor Tennis, and “Sticky,” another handball game he invented and patented. In 1874 he patented the game with a rule book called, “Sphairistike or Lawn Tennis.” However, he adopted the “Rackets,” scoring system of 15, 30, 40 and so forth.

Women’s professional tennis began in 1926 when world’s number one Suzanne Lenglen played a series of three matches against Mary K. Brown. However, women did not play tennis again until 1941 when Alice Marble played against Mary Hardwick. During this time, World War Two ended up hindering most competitions.  Although tennis competitions were not common it wasn't until 1967 when women really began playing pro in the, “Open Era” making the sport develop into what it is today.

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