History Of Tennis

The history of tennis dates back several thousand years. The game was first created by European monks to be played for entertainment purposes during religious ceremonies.

ArticlesandContent.com · Oct 7, 2021 (written 2005)

To begin with, the ball was hit with the hand. Soon the leather glove came into existence. This was soon replaced with an adaptive handle for effective hitting and serving of the ball. Thus was born the first racquet. With the evolution of the racket, the tennis balls also underwent frequent alterations. The first tennis ball was wooden. It gave way to a bouncier, leather ball filled with cellulose material. The monasteries across Europe cherished the game during the 14th century much to the chagrin of the Church.

Who Invented Tennis

Harry Gem, Augurio Perera and Walter Clopton Wingfield are all credited with inventing tennis as the form closest to how we play the game today. All of these men had integral roles in the development of the history of tennis.

Harry Gem

Harry Gem excelled in cricket, running and racket playing. Combine the aspects of these sports and it’s not surprising that Gem is credited as being responsible for creating a game that has evolved into today’s game of tennis. He was the first in bringing the game of lawn tennis to the public playing field in a joint effort with other Englishmen in creating a tennis club. Gem established the laws of the game of lawn tennis in 1872 and these rules are still the basis of the game as it is played today.

Augurio Perera

Englishman Augurio Perera worked closely with Harry Gem and is known for his part in establishing the first organized tennis club with the creation of the Leamington Club. The first game played with the establishment of this club was on the lawn of the Manor House Hotel.

Walter Clopton Wingfield

Harry Gem may have brought lawn tennis to the social setting but Major Walter Clopton WIngfield is credited with inventing the modern version of the game. In December of 1873 he patented the game of spharistike. This is the game we know today as tennis.

The game soon became very popular, predominantly in France where it was adopted by the royal family. During the period between the 16th and 18th centuries, the game called ' Jeu de paumme' - the game of the palm was a highly regarded by kings and noblemen. The French players would begin the game by shouting the word “tenez!” which meant “Play!” The game soon came to be called royal or “real tennis.”

In 1874, Major Walter Wingfield acquired the patent rights for the equipments and rules for the game which bore close resemblance to the modern tennis. On the same year, the first tennis courts emerged in the United States. The game soon spread to different parts of the world like Russia, Canada, China and India. The smooth croquet courts served as ready tennis courts during those times. The original court devised by Wingfield was in the shape of an hourglass which tapered at the net. It was shorter than the modern court which we have today. His version of tennis courts and the rules of games underwent a fair amount of changes and amendments till the game gave to the modernized version which is played today.

US Open Tennis History

The US Open tennis tournament, also known as “Open” or “US Open” is the fourth and the last event of the Grand Slam tennis tournaments. The tennis matches are placed for a period of two weeks, generally in the months of August or September, annually. The history of the open tennis is borne from two distinct tournaments-one for women and the other for men. The event was first held in August 1881 at Newport Casino in Newport Rhode Island. It was a men’s singles tournament and it was called the US National Singles Championship for men.

The year 1900 saw the US Nation Men’s Double Championship being played for the first time. The first official US Women’s National Singles Championship was played at the Philadelphia Cricket Club in the year 1887. Ellen Hansel was the winner of the tournament. This was soon followed by the US Women’s National Doubles Championship in the year 1889.

It has been a good 121 years since the first US open tennis game was played. It is the richest tennis tournament in the world with about $15 million as prize money and the triumph is definitely worth the sweat. The thought of creating the US open came to light after the US Lawn Tennis Association, founded in May 1881, volunteered to hold a national championship.

Twenty six players graced the introductory contest held in Newport Island, Rhode Island. It was called the US National Singles Championship. The members from the US National Lawn Tennis Association were only eligible to play the competition. The first singles winner was Richard Sears. He not only won the tournament for the first year but he was the reigning champion for the next six years.

The men’s Doubles happened because the championship began to move around the country with nine different places hosting the event at least once. The men’s doubles was split into an East and West competition. Clarence Clark and W.F. Taylor took the first doubles title for the match held in the year 1900.

The commencement of “Open era” (whereby players could play in all tournaments), in 1968, led to creation of the modern event as we know presently. Five different competitions were merged into one US Open Championship, held at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, Queens, New York. The prize money was at $100,000, and was shared fittingly between the 96 men and 63 women who graced the event. In 1970, the US Open was the first tennis tournament to introduce the tie-breaker system. By the year 1978, the tournament was shifted to its current home or the courts for the USTA National Tennis Center in Flushing Meadow, New York.

Tennis Scoring History

There are two theories which revolve around the Tennis scoring history. The first one states that the scoring has its origins in ancient numerology. In medieval times, the number 60 was considered auspicious or “complete” in a similar manner to which the number 100 is considered to be a “complete” figure now. The medieval adaptation of tennis thus considered 60 to be the “game” with steps of four points like 15, 30, 45 (or 40 as it is today) and finally 60.

The second theory is attributed to the presence of a clock at the end of the tennis court. A quarter move of the clock hand was made after each break with the score being referred to as 15, 30, 45 and finally 60.

Image Description
Tennis ball on a Tennis court.

The Tennis Court

The early tennis courts were quite different from the current day lawn tennis courts most of us are familiar with. The early version of the game is now called “real tennis” and England’s Hampton court built in 1625 is still used presently. Courts of the present times are hardly used today. The court then was a narrow indoor court where the ball was played off walls. The net was five feet high on the ends and three feet high in the middle.

The year 1877 saw the All England Club coming up with the first Wimbledon tournament and the tournament committee played with a rectangular court and played with a set of rules that are associated with the modernized version the game.

Tennis particularly, the US Open is a test of skill, accuracy and agility. There is a huge amount of prize money to be won and a name to be earned for oneself. The game is popular with billions of people around the world. If you want to be fit and agile, grab the racquet and head out for an invigorating game of tennis!

History Of Tennis: More Information

Tennis Channel®

Tennis Channel® is another website exploring all of the events surround the development of tennis. This is a good site to visit to become familiar with how the game evolved and how and where the game is played today. Web visitors can access a complete history of the game, historical facts, fun facts, tennis statistics, and they can also read up about tennis legends. The site has a glossary, a player spotlight, a tennis tour schedule, a tour map, videos, and more. For full details visit http://www.tennischannel.com/game/history.

United States Court Tennis Association

The United States Court Tennis Association has teamed up with the United States Court Tennis Preservation Foundation to offer the Court Tennis in the United States website. This site has information on the history of the game, tennis quotations, information on how the game is played, headlines pertaining to the current tennis season, national league information, a tournament gallery, details on the 2010 World Championship, and a listing of tennis clubs in the United States. For more information visit http://uscta.org/index.php?id=43.


The official Wimbledon website had loads of information available about the history of tennis in England through to the present day. There is an online shop where you can purchase items relating to tennis, a Museum that you can visit or learn more about online, and you can also purchase tickets to current Wimbledon tennis games. There is even a live countdown clock to the next Wimbledon championship event. You can view all of this information easily online by going to http://www.wimbledon.com/.

The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club Wimbledon Website

The All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club Wimbledon website has information about famous tennis players, legendary players at Wimbledon, and information about Wimbledon history. This site also offers statistics, records, fashion information, and information about prize money offered a Wimbledon from 1968 to 2011. Visitors can learn more about tennis royalty, trophies, golden moments, the Olympics, the golden years of Wimbledon, the honor roll, and the 125th anniversary of the site. The site also supplies information about the museum on site, guided tours, the grounds ,the shop, tickets, and tennis related news. For further details visit http://www.wimbledon.com/about.


Tennis-Time.com is another site where an individual can access biographical information about the top tennis players in the field. This site has information about the game of tennis, the rules of the game, male players, female players, legendary players, the world tournaments, records, and there is an image gallery web visitors can access. This site also includes access to videos, a blog, a glossary, games, and educational material related to tennis. For more details visit http://www.tennis-time.com/legend-tennis-players.html.

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