Tennis and its history

Tennis has a very long history. It probably was born in France long time ago, where the “jeu de pomme” was played by bare hands. Over time, as the strategy of the game required strength, the ball began to hurt the hands of the players. Then, the players wrapped their hands. But that was not the right solution and the rackets were developed. The word “tennis” probably comes from the wrong pronunciation of the French verb “tenez!

Played for pleasure at that time, the tennis turned into a sport in 1873, thanks to Walter Clopton Wingfield who went to the London Chamber of Commerce to file the invention of this new sport that he called “lawn-tennis”.

After the promotional activities of British Major Wingfield, lawn tennis started to attract much more people. However, there was no standard set for the rules of the game and the court, and the tournament committee decided that the rules did not meet the needs. For this reason, Julian Marshall, Henry Jones and Charles Gilbert Heathcote, three members of the croquet club at that time, assumed the task to establish and regulate the rules. The rules established by these men are still the basis of tennis today.

Since 1874 tennis began to spread worldwide and the desire to play competitively became stronger and stronger so there was a competition between the countries in organizing the greatest tournament of all time.

The challenge was won by England who first held the Wimbledon Tournament, starting the Grand Slam in 1877. The first winner, Gore Spencer, was also the inventor of the volley: he placed himself at the net and tried to answer to as many balls as possible. The Wimbledon tournament, having been the first, is considered the most important and the most traditionalist, remaining unchanged over the centuries.

In the United States, too, the popularity of tennis grew more and more so that in 1881, once the federation was established, the first national championship was organized. France and Australia wanted to have their own tournament: the first Championat de France was born in 1891 and the first Australiasian Championships in 1905.

In 1968 the last three major tournaments were renamed respectively Us Open, French Open (also known as Roland Garros) and Australian Open: the term “Open” meant that the tournament was open to all, eliminating the distinction between tournaments for professionals and those for beginners.

In 1898 the American Dwight Filley Davis wanted to challenge the British team: this competition, in 1946, took the name of the Davis Cup. The Fed Cup was born in 1963 for the 50th anniversary of the birth of the ITF, the International Tennis Federation.

In 1967, the first two men’s championship were created: the World Championship Tennis (WCT) and the National League (NTL) But they wanted to control the sport and force the players to play in a tournament rather than another. This story went on until the players, probably fed up with being manipulated like puppets, founded their own union: in 1972 the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) was born which enshrined the rights of tennis players, protecting them from the ILTF and WCT.

In 1973 the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA) was also founded, the main association of women’s tennis.

Tennis is a passion that takes everyone, from professionals to amateurs. It is not only enjoyable to play but also to watch. It is fun and healthy. It is a good mix of skill, athleticism and strategy.

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Giuseppe Panebianco


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