While the modern game of tennis is believed to have evolved from a ball sport popular in 12th-century French monasteries, the sport of lawn tennis was first codified in England in the 19th century.
The oldest forms of the game saw players striking the ball with the palm of the hand, this was the sport of jeu de paume (“game of the palm”) played in monastic cloisters in the middle ages.
The modern sport of tennis owes its origins to this game as well as the past time, variously known as real tennis, royal tennis or court tennis, which was an indoor racket sport.
This sport is the first credited with the use of a racket similar to that used in the modern sport.
Tennis owes its name to the French term tenez, a phrase often cried aloud while the royal racket sports of the Royal Family of France. The term can be translated as “hold!”, “receive!” or “take!”.
In a curious twist it was the invention of the automated lawnmower that helped speed the new game of tennis towards invention.
Lawn tennis took many staples of the indoor game of aristocrats and adapted it for an outdoor setting.
There are records of tennis-like sports being played as early as 1859 on croquet lawns.
Sports historians have noted the contributions of British army officer Walter Clopton Wingfield towards the establishment of tennis as a clearly defined sport.
Leamington Lawn Tennis Club in Birmingham is considered the site that staged the first true modern tennis tournament back in 1874.
Not long after the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club would hold its first championships at Wimbledon, in 1877, beginning the fine traditions of the modern sport in earnest.
By 1880 the sport had made its way across to the United States were formal tournaments were also held.
Soon Great Britain, France, the US and Australia established themselves as the controlling powers in the sport thanks to their status as the early hosts of Majors.
The International Lawn Tennis Federation was established in 1913 and with it the basic outline of what would become the Grand Slams was put into place.
These early Majors were The World Grass Court Championships awarded to Great Britain, The World Hard Court Championships in France and the World Covered Court Championships for indoor courts.
These events were shortlived and would later be replaced by what would become the Grand Slams.
In 1923 Britain, France, Australia, and the US were awarded the rights to host the ‘Official Championships’.
The term Grand Slam was a media invention, the coining of which is credited to sports columnist Alan Gould who borrowed the term from the card game bridge and used it to describe Jack Crawford’s 1933 bid to win all four Official Championships in the same year.
That early game might now look quite different but it remains recognisable as tennis, a sport that was first codified in the 19th century.
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