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Tennis History

What is the history of Tennis? What are its origins? Where did Tennis come from? Who invented it? Here is the history of Tennis.

Tennis History

Table of Contents


What are the Basic Rules of Tennis?

Tennis is a sport that can be played either individually or as part of a two-person team. Each player is equipped with a specially designed tennis racket, with the object of the game being to successfully hit the ball over the net such that the opponent fails to return the ball within the boundary of play. Games are played on a rectangular court with a net running across the center. There are a variety of different playing surfaces, including grass and clay.

Matches are divided into sets, each of which contains several games. A game is won by scoring a series of points. A player's first point is scored as 15, followed by 30 and 40. Once a player reaches 40, an additional point wins the game. If two players or teams are tied at 40-40 at any given time, the following point is scored as an advantage, with the leading team required to score another consecutive point in order to win the game. In other words, if the score is tied at 40-40, one player/team must win back-to-back points in order to successfully win the game by a margin of two. In order to win a set, participants must win six games while also holding a two-game lead over the opponent. For men's tennis matches, the victor must win three out of a potential five sets, while women's matches require the winner to defeat the opponent in two out of three potential sets.

Each point starts with a serve, which involves hitting the ball overhand and successfully landing it inside of the box diagonal to where the serving player is standing. Serving rights switch over to the opposing team/player after each game has been completed, and participants are required to change sides every two games.

The most common violation in tennis is relative to serving, in which the serving player hits the ball into the net or fails to land the ball in the designated area on the opponent's side of the court. Serving players are given a maximum of two serves, with an unsuccessful first attempt being ruled a fault. Failure to execute a legal serve within the two tries alloted results in a point automatically being awarded to the opposition.

Which Country Started Tennis?

Tennis originated in France, where members of the French monastery used their hands to make contact with the ball during the 12th century. Towards the beginning of the 16th century, rackets were invented and the sport expanded into surrounding areas such as England. It was not until this point in time that tennis gained its official name.

Who Invented Tennis?

While the early origins of tennis lie in the 12th century, the modern version of outdoor tennis that exists today did not come about until the back-half of the 19th century. The invention of modern tennis is generally credited to Walter Wingfield of London, who introduced a style of play involving rubber balls and a manicured grass court in 1873. Wingfield's invention was a big moment in the history of tennis, as it proved that the sport could be played outdoors and validated the idea of striking the ball with rackets.

When was Tennis Established?

The official establishment of tennis as a sport likely occurred around 1500. Rackets and balls specific to tennis were starting to be manufactured at this time, and approximately 1,800 indoor courts were created in England to accommodate a growing desire to play the sport. Outdoor tennis was not established until 1877, a few years after Wingfield introduced modern gameplay features. It was also around this time that previously utilized hourglass-shaped courts gave way to the rectangular courts viewers and players are accustomed to today.

Tennis became extremely popular throughout the 1870's, as croquet clubs in England started to adopt the sport when it was realized that pre-existing grass croquet courts were perfectly suitable for tennis matches. The year also marked the first recorded tennis tournament, with the All England Croquet Club hosting the inaugural Wimbledon Championship. To this day, Wimbledon is played each year and is widely considered to be one of the most important and prestigious competitive events for professional tennis players. Moreover, tennis is currently the fourth most popular sport around the world.

Listed below are the countries in which tennis is most popular. Rankings are based on overall popularity of the sport and the number of events held in each nation.

  1. Australia
  2. France
  3. New Zealand
  4. Switzerland
  5. England

Tennis History Key Facts and Timeline

The following timeline provides a brief overview of the most notable facts and events in the history of tennis.

  • 1873: modern tennis is invented by Walter Wingfield in London
  • 1877: first ever Wimbledon tournament takes place in England
  • 1881: tennis expands to the United States, prompting the establishment of the United States Tennis Association (USTA) to oversee competitions and the first U.S. Open Championship event
  • 1900: Davis Cup (largest team event in men's tennis) is played for the very first time
  • 1913: International Tennis Federation (ITF) is created to regulate all international events and standardize a set of rules for international play
  • 1937: first radio broadcast of a tennis match
  • 1970: tiebreaker stipulation added to tennis rules and regulations
  • 1972: Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) is formed, professional men's and women's tennis players are assigned worldwide rankings based on their placement in various events and tournaments throughout the year
  • 1977: Wimbledon Lawn Tennis Museum opened in London to commemorate memorable moments in the history of outdoor tennis
  • 1989: clay courts are deemed suitable for professional tennis matches
  • 2006: Roger Federer wins three out of four major tournament championships
  • 2017: Serena Williams solidifies herself as the greatest women's tennis player ever by winning a record 23rd major championship


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