Game, set, match! You’ve been playing tennis for a while now or maybe you’re just starting to learn the basics. Either way, isn’t it nice to know more about this sport? We know its a popular past time too but how did it all start? Want to know more about the history of tennis?
The game of tennis is believed to have started thousands of years back, with several indicators suggesting the ancient Egyptians, Greeks and Romans played precursors to the modern day version of it.
However, the earliest recognizable relative o the game was “jeu de paume” which means “game of the hand”, played in 11th century France. This was played in a monastery courtyard by monks and the game used the walls and sloping roofs as part of the court and the palm of the hand to hit the ball. According to this theory, the word ‘tennis’ was coined by these monks, who would shout the word ‘tenez’, the French for ‘to take’, while they served the ball.
As would be expected from an entertaining past time, in the next few centuries, the game grew in popularity. In fact, it even reached beyond the monastery walls to become adopted by the nobility throughout Europe. Some accounts claim that by the 13th century, there were as many as 1,800 courtyards for playing the game.
As the game became more popular, significant changes were also made, which resulted to a slow transformation becoming more and more of the game as we know it today. Courtyard playing areas began to be modified into indoor courts, and the balls, which were initially wooden, gave way to bouncier, leather balls filled with cellulose material. Also, eventually, a wooden frame racquet laced with sheep gut began to be common in use, together with a cork ball weighing approximately three ounces.
By the late 19th century, the popularity of this game had overtaken croquet in England. More and more enthusiasts embraced the sport and started designating certain croquet lawns to be used for tennis. It was this moment that made tennis more popular – the number of available venues and the enthusiasm with a sport that involved a racquet.
Tournaments also started. Wimbledon’s first year was in 1877 where the committee organizing the tournament opted for a rectangular one (it was previously an hour-glass shape). They also introduced a set of rules that are essentially the game of tennis as we know now.
So do you now know more about your game?