The History of Tennis

Tennis has become a growing sport over the decades and is now categorized as an Olympic event, but its history and origins lay the foundation of many historical periods and locations. The history of tennis as we know it dates back to the mid-19th century in Birmingham, England but its origins lay in a French handball game of the twelfth century. In the twelfth century, french monks used to play jeu de paume, translated to “game of hand”, which became popularized among the French public at the time.

At first, the game was played with a ball that was not made of rubber and was usually made from wool and later hand-stitched similar to that of a modern day baseball. Many of the players argued the game was painful only using bare hands and webbed gloves were constructed to make the game easier to play and would later result in the development of the racquet. Over the years the sport became popular outside of France and also spread to other parts of Europe. The rise in popularity by King Henry the VIII, who was an avid player, would also mean the construction of more courts around England.

In the 1530’s, King Henry the VIII built the first Hampton Courts in England and in 1583 the first racquets were developed in Italy. Throughout the next centuries, the sport would spread around the world and would reach the United States shores in the nineteenth century. In 1877, the first world championship of tennis took place in Wimbledon, London and by 1896 it was officially considered an Olympic sport. Throughout the 20th century, the sport gained major championships in England, Australia, and the United States for both men and women and continued to this day. The sport is now played by countries all around the world with courts available in many different public locations for all to enjoy.

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