Week one at Wimbledon: The history of tennis

“One tennis game cannot justify your whole tennis life, but it can justify how far you have gone.”

The modern game of tennis has developed significantly, first recognised in the North of France in the 12th Century in which the sport was known as ‘real tennis’.

Players would strike the ball with the palm of their hand. The sport then further developed in Birmingham in the late 19th Century when the sport was referred to as ‘lawn tennis’.

Within this period of the sport, rackets had been developed earlier in the 16th Century yet the sport was played indoors with the use of walls.

Tennis clubs are found commonly across the world to this day due to high demand.

However, the very first tennis club was founded in 1872 by two doctors known as Leamington Spa and the first known named tennis player was called ‘Louis X’. 

On May 21 1881 the US Nation of Lawn Tennis was created, which forced the standardisation of rules and organisation of competitions. The LTA was introduced on January 26 1888.

History of the Grand Slams:

Wimbledon: The British major, which takes place in London, is the oldest tennis tournament in history with the first competition being held in 1877.

  • Surface: Grass
  • Prize money: £31.6 million

Most titles:

  • Female: Elizabeth Ryan (7)
  • Males: Roger Federer, Pete Sampras, William Renshaw (7)

French Open: The first time this major was held was in 1891. However, only players who were at a French club could participate. This was until 1923, when the major became available for all to play.

  • Surface: Clay
  • Prize money: 36 million EUR

Most titles:

  • Female: Chris Evert (7)
  • Male: Rafael Nadal (10)

US Open: The US Open was first held for men in 1881 and then for women in 1887. This tournament was the fourth and final competition which made up the majors.

  • Surface: Hard court
  • Prize money: 46.3 million USD

Most titles:

  • Females: Christ Evert, Serena Williams (6)
  • Males: Jimmy Connors, Pete Sampras, Roger Federer (5)

Australian Open: The first time that this competition was held was in 1905, the latest of all the majors.

  • Surface: Hard court
  • Prize money: 50 million AUD

Most titles:

  • Female: Serena Williams (7)
  • Male: Novak Djokovic (6)

International competitions:

Davis Cup: This is the male international competition, which was first held in 1900. The most dominant nation is USA having won 32 titles in the 117 years the competition has been running.

Federation Cup: This is the female international competition which was first held in 1963. The most dominant nation is again the USA having won 17 titles in the 54 years the competition has been running.  

Image courtesy of ROLEX via YouTube, with thanks.


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