Last Updated on January 7, 2021
Tennis is one of the favorite sports of people in different countries, is an exciting spectacle and is becoming more and more popular from year to year.
Tennis has its own history, which is composed of confirmed data, officially recorded, and various assumptions.
The beginnings of tennis history
Some historians believe that tennis emerged in ancient Egypt. There is an opinion that the word “racket” comes from the Arabic “rakhat”, which means the palm of the hand. Another, more popular version says that tennis began to play the monks in France in the 11-12 century.
The formation of tennis as a professional sport is attributed to 1872 when the first Major Tennis Club was founded. On the lawns of Leamington Resort, Portuguese merchant Hoa Pereira and doctors Frederick Haynes and Wesley Tomkins played the Spanish game of pelota ball. Afterward, the original rules of grand tennis (lawn tennis) were established.
Although the exact origins of the sport are unknown, it is believed that the rules of tennis, later called “Grand Tennis”, was invented by British army officer Walter Clopton Wingfield in 1873. Noticing the great commercial potential of Grand Tennis, he patented the game, but could not impose a point of view on the invention of the game. Wingfield claimed to have borrowed the principles of the ancient Greek game, which he called “Spharistike” (Greek for “ball game”). But many scholars believe that he simply used the principles of popular English games–the court game, squash racquets, and the principle of playing outdoors from badminton. The first players preferred to call the Wingfield game – lawn tennis since the game was played on a small field covered with grass.
Tennis is also known as “royal tennis. In medieval France it was very popular, even especially for royalty. In the Middle Ages it was so common in Great Britain, especially in the time of Henry VIII. Historians believe that many of the terms of tennis are taken from the French vocabulary-the terms of royal tennis in the court of the King of France.
- “Tennis” comes from “tenez” (“tenir” – to hold, catch in French). When the tennis players were about to serve the ball, they would call out “tenez!”
- “Deuce” comes from the French “deux le jeu,” which means “even,” i.e., an equal number of points at a given point in the game.
- The count of 15-30-40 comes from the euphonious for the French “quinze”, “trente” and “quarante”, or from quarters of an hour (15-30-45, where 45 was transformed into 40).
At first the ball was made of sheep’s wool, and was filled with sawdust, sand, and wool. Later, a ball that had a high bounce was invented, and tennis began to be played on the lawn.
History of world tennis
In the U.S. the game appeared thanks to Mary Ewing – the first tennis match was supposedly played in 1874 on the courts of the cricket and baseball club on Staten Island.
The first amateur championships were held on the courts of the General English Tennis and Cricket Club – Wimbledon (in 1877 – men’s, in 1884 – women’s).
In 1900 an international team tennis tournament, the Davis Cup, was held, which brought tennis even more attention to the world. In 1963, the Fed Cup women’s tournament was held, which became the equivalent of the Davis Cup. Both of these championships raised the prestige of great tennis.
When the game began to make big profits, in the 1920s, a large number of amateur players joined the professional tour.
By the end of the 19th century, big tennis had spread first to the English colonies, especially to Australia, and then to the rest of the world. In the United States the rules of tennis were constantly changing and amended until 1881, when the United States Tennis Association (USTA – United States Lawn Tennis Association) was created. The association has standardized the rules of tennis, the parameters of the tournaments. Under the auspices of the Association began to hold annual competitions in Newport in men’s singles (1881). Women’s competition was first held in Philadelphia in 1887. In 1968, the championship was renamed the U.S. Open and was held at the national center of tennis, New York City.
In the early 20th century, the biggest tournaments in major tennis were Wimbledon and the U.S. Open. Since 1968 a new era began in tennis – both professionals and amateurs could be admitted to major competitions.
In 1971, the Professional Women’s Tour (WTA) was founded, which was able to provide the same financial support to tennis players as the men’s tour. Professional tour tennis tournaments can compete in popularity with the Olympic Games, in which tennis players began to participate in 1988.
History of tennis tournaments
The popularity of tennis in the late 19th century is proven by the fact that in 1896 it was included in the program of the first modern Olympics. At the first Olympic tennis tournament two sets of medals were played – in the men’s singles and men’s doubles. Four years later the first set of Olympic medals in the history of women was played in the tennis tournament. The first Olympic mixed doubles tournament was also held as part of the same Olympics. The tennis tournament was held as part of the Olympics until 1924, after which it was reopened only in 1988.
The dominance of the United States, Great Britain, France, and Australia in pre-war world tennis led to tournaments held in these countries being the most prestigious. The four greatest tournaments – the Wimbledon tournament, the U.S. championship, the French championship, held since 1891 and open to participants from other countries since 1925, and the Australian championship (held since 1905) – in the 30s received the common name “Grand Slam tournaments”, borrowed from the bridge card game. The term, as the U.S. Open website points out, was coined by New York Times reporter John Kieran in 1933, when Australian tennis player Jack Crawford won the Australian Championship, the French Championship and the Wimbledon tournament and reached the U.S. Championship final against Briton Fred Perry.
Kieran wrote, “If Crawford beats Perry today, it will be tantamount to winning a grand slam on the tennis court.” The Grand Slam was not won that year, and Don Budge became the first Grand Slam winner five years later. According to another version, particularly given on the official Wimbledon tournament website, the term originated after Budge won all four tournaments, and its author is American sports journalist Allison Danzig.
Tennis organizations, especially the International Tennis Federation (ITF), are making great efforts to promote the game worldwide. In 2009 alone, the ITF and the Grand Slam Tennis Foundation invested more than $3.5 million to promote tennis worldwide, with another $400,000 in donations from the Olympic Solidarity Foundation. These organizations have supported 25 regional youth tennis tournaments around the world, including the African Youth Championships. In just 23 years, the ITF and Grand Slam Development Fund have invested more than $71 million in tennis around the world. The ITF also supports its own cycle of more than 350 junior tournaments in more than a hundred countries around the world. About ten thousand young tennis players take part in the ITF Junior Tour tournaments. Under the aegis of the International Tennis Federation there are 150 tournaments in 37 countries for wheelchair tennis players.