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Tennis History – How It All Started

Updated on August 27, 2010

Tennis History – How It All Started

Tennis is one sport that is highly popular these days. While we all know the rules of the game and watch it there are only few that actually know how everything started. There was one tennis form that was actually popular during the Medievel Ages. We now call it real tennis. Everything started thanks to France and one ball game that was particularly popular there in the 12th century. The ball was being hit by using your bear hand or a glove. Racquets began being used only from the 16th century. That was also when some rules have been created. Real tennis started to be highly popular among royalty.

Although this is something that few people know, we saw the first tennis tour being played in 1571. King Charles IX wanted it to be held. This brought in 3 levels for players: apprentice, associate and master. The first tennis rules book appeared in 1599. France showed a high popularity of the game and England got there when Henry VIII came as a ruler. He is the one that first built one tennis court, then by James I's reign we already had 14 special courts in London.

In the 17th century the game was really popular between nobility in Italy, Spain, France and even the Austro-Hungarian Empire. English Puritanism did put a stop to development seen in England. Unfortunately, during the reign of Napoleon we saw real tennis being abandoned. Good news came from England in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. Three new sports emerged, all based on the former real tennis rules: racquets, squash racquets and lawn tennis. Lawn tennis gained the most popularity and became the game of tennis that we love today. Tennis history would have been nothing without the popularity of real tennis in France and English nobility.


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