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Tennis – Its Origin and Major Tournaments

Updated on March 20, 2014


The concept of tennis of tennis originated from the European monks in northern France during the 12th century. At its early stages, a wooden ball was used by the players using the palm of their hand as a racquet. During that time they called the sport “jeu de paum” (game of the palm) because of the method by which the game was played with.

Wooden Racquet

The introduction of wooden racquet came during the 16th century which later changed the name of the sport into “tennis”. Being well known in England and France, it was Henry VIII of England who made the sport even more popular as he was a huge fan of the game. This made historians refer to the game as “real tennis”.


Lawn Tennis

Lawn tennis occurred between 1859 and 1865 in Birmingham, England. Major Harry Gem, who was a solicitor for the British Military, and Augurio Perera, a Spanish merchant, incorporated the elements of racquet sports with the Spanish game Pelota . The newly developed sport was played on a croquet lawn in Edgbaston thus giving birth to lawn tennis. In 1874, these two friends had moved to Leamington Spa. With the help of some friends, they and eventually organized the first tennis club, the Leamington Tennis Club.


In 1877, the All England Club organized championship games that were played in Wimbledon. The event was primarily meant to raise funds for their club. A total of 22 tennis players participated in the first Wimbledon championship games where the winner received a Silver Gilt Cup and proclaimed the first “All England Lawn Tennis Champion of the World”.

Succeeding the event, the need to standardize rules was stressed . This paved the way for the recognition of the Official British Championship which would govern future tournaments. The competition eventually opened its doors to international players leading to the Ladies Singles and Gentlemen’s Doubles competition in 1913. This was later followed by the Ladies and Mixed Doubles.

Major Tournaments

This first major tennis tournament gave rise to four other major tennis organizations around the world, namely: the U.S. Open, the French Open, the Australian Open and the Davis Cup. This made tennis an exciting racquet sport attracting millions of enthusiasts worldwide.

Roger Federer


Modern Tennis

In modern tennis as we see it today, the game has become a fast and highly competitive sport with players being able to hit the ball at high speed with an incredible amount of topspin. And with well known pro tennis players like Roger Federer, Rafael Nadal, Serena and Venus Williams and a lot more others, tennis will surely remain an exciting sport to watch.


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