Category: Sports

An In-depth Look at the History of Tennis


An In-depth Look at the History of Tennis

Nowadays, tennis is a popular activity at school for both men and women, and do you know how it came to be?

It’s a sport that actually has a deep history that goes back over a thousand years! In this article, I’m going to teach you some tennis tidbits from the ground up that you’ll want to talk to people about.

If you are going to play tennis, please read on if you want to know more about it.

History of Tennis

Tennis is now a popular sport. And even if you don’t know much about it, you’ve probably seen it at least once. However, the form of tennis in ancient times and the form it takes today are very different. When did tennis go through the process of change to become what it is today? It’s a fun way to talk about tennis, including how it’s done and more. You should definitely try to learn its history.

Where did tennis come from?

Tennis is now a one-on-one game, but it is believed that tennis began in Egypt. It is said that several people simply hit a ball against each other. We have murals of the scene, and it wasn’t recognized as a sport at the time. It is also thought to have had a religious significance. At first, tennis wasn’t a heated, competitive game, and it spread in a sort of playful atmosphere.

The modern form of tennis dates back to the 12th-century in France. This is where aristocrats used palms and gloves to play tennis in the palaces. It began as a fun way to hit the ball around. And by the 16th century, It became popularly known as “Jeu de Paume” and gradually began to make coats as well. Since then, they started holding international conventions there. 

From France, it eventually spread to England and later, throughout Europe. Tennis was the favorite sport of the aristocracy in Europe. It was a sport that was only enjoyed by a few wealthy people.

What is the origin of the word “tennis”?

Here’s a quick summary of the etymology of the word tennis and tennis terms.

Tennis – There are many theories about the word, but the most popular one is “tenir” which means “to grab” in French. It is derived from the imperative form of “tenez”. This means “look” or “come on” when you offer something to your opponent on serve. It is thought that the word tennis may have originated from the use of the word as a call to action.

Racket – from the Arabic word “rakhat” meaning “palm”. Another theory is that it is derived from the French word “raquette”: an
oval or rounded instrument adapted to a handle and allowing to throw a ball.

Service – In tennis, the word “service” came from the act of a servant dropping the first ball into an easy position for his opponent to hit.

History of Technology

When tennis was still in its infancy, the way it plays was different compared today. The serving aspect, in particular, has changed a lot.

Service was an act of service performed by servants to return a ball that was easy for their opponents to hit. Which means that it was first done with the strength of a ball out from underneath. It’s far more different than the strong serve that we have today.

How the services we have today came out of that old history from the 19th century.? It is said that the first change happened from the Wimbledon Championships in 1885. The rule of hitting on the baseline was finally put in place. During those. the server can speak and strike with one foot off the ground. In 1902 and again in 1960, there’s been a few changes made and eventually, a form of jumping serve was allowed.

While under-serving is still allowed in one form or another, not many players hit it from below. Jumping serves are sometimes faster on the ball. There are many players who produce points with this type of serve.

History of Tennis Equipment


The origins of tennis and changes in the rules are of course important to the history of the game. But if you trace the history of tennis back to B.C., it is not the only thing that has changed. Tennis equipment, such as balls and rackets, have also changed their shape over time.

The following two things about the history of tennis equipment are explained below.

  • Is the ball different in the past than it is today?
  • Were the racquets made by the players?

Is the ball different in the old days than it is now?

When jeu de pome was popular in France, the ball was made of sheepskin and stuffed with animal hair. It is known to have been struck in the palm of the hand. Unlike today’s balls, they were quite heavy and did not have much bouncing power.

In today’s tennis, the International Tennis Federation (ITF) has strict rules. The height of the ball ranges from 254 cm to 134.5 cm. The ball must bounce from a height of 254cm to 134.62-147.32cm before it can be of use. As for colors, the ball is black and white, but with the spread of color TVs, “black and white makes it difficult to see. There some comments such as, “The white ball is hard to see because it gets stained on the green grass. As for Wimbledon, “The white ball is hard to see because of the green grass stains on it.”

Thus, the ITF has found in its research that yellow appears better on color television. This is why the yellow ball is now used in all tournaments.

Were the racquets made by the players?

Tennis, which was popular as a game in the Middle Ages, was originally played with the palm of the hand. But there was still the problem of pain in the hands, so they made racquets.

In fact, in the 15th century, players had to make their own rackets in Europe. It’s because there were no companies that supply rackets at the time. And the process of becoming a professional required that you could make your own rackets.

In the mid-16th century, there were racquets made from fibrous sheep’s intestines. The type is called “natural gut”, but there are many other materials available. Now that technology has advanced, players don’t have to make them themselves. But rather, they have to special order them from manufacturers to make them. Many players use the racquets they receive in their matches.

History of the Tennis Court

The tennis courts you see at school didn’t actually take on the shape we see today. It was until after the modernization of tennis. The modern courts took shape around the time of the Wimbledon Championships in the 19th century.

Changes to the Tennis Court

Originally, tennis was a sport that only the people of high rank can play. As stated earlier, it was the kind of game that the upper class and the clergy liked to play. The courts in those days were often located in monasteries. There were usually played on large courts with sloping ceilings.

A British veteran named Wingfield began to elaborate on the modernization of tennis. In 1873, he made a court of 11.895 meters against a baseline length of 11.895 meters. He designed an “hourglass-shaped” court with a 6-meter net.

Later on, courts changed again in England from the hourglass-shaped court. But it is still not a perfect rectangle. Yet, in 1877, Wimbledon’s first tournament was held. A new court was built with a sideline of 23.77 meters and a baseline of 8.23 meters. It was eventually replaced by the modern court that we have today.


I hope you now understand that tennis has changed over its long history since BC. Not only the rules, but also the equipments and all aspects of the court.