Thrilling from start to finish, tennis is one of the world’s most exciting sports. Over the course of 900 years, it has grown to become a game that has enthralled the world.
Tennis fans love long rallies that build suspense and tension, leading many of them to turn to the best bookmaker for tennis betting fans to make it even more exciting.
Whether you are a super fan of the game, or it is simply a sport you love playing on a brilliant weekend afternoon, you might be interested in the history of tennis.
In this post, we will tell this game’s story from its early origins in the Middle Ages to the present day.
Origins and early days
The first games from which the game of tennis grew are thought to have taken place in French monasteries during the 12th century.
This predecessor sport was a game where participants batted a ball between each other using their palms.
Rackets did not come into play until the 16th century; it was during this time in history when royals such as Francis I of France built courts, standardized rules, and encouraged play among nobles and commoners.
It was during this era when the game began to become mentioned in literature and works of art. William Shakespeare referred to ‘tennis balles’ in some of his plays, and Giambattista Tiepolo created ‘The Death of Hyacinth’ in 1753, which featured three tennis balls and a racket in the piece.
The early days of tennis came to a halt shortly thereafter, as the rise of English puritanism and the age of Napoleon led to its banishment.
The game splits into three variants
After being chased underground for roughly half a century, the game re-emerged in the mid-19th century. Tennis was played on lawn courts at this time, a variant which is still featured in The Wimbledon Championships each July.
Clay court tennis emerged in the late 19th century in Cannes, France. When lawn courts kept withering under the French Riviera sun, clay pots and red brick were ground up and laid over the surface of the court. To this day, the French Open is played on this slippery surface, making for many exciting rallies.
Modern hard courts emerged in the early 20th century, with tournaments played in California, USA being among the first to feature these new surfaces.
Tennis in the modern era
The modern era of tennis began with the establishment of major tournaments. These are the Australian Open, Wimbledon, the French Open, and the US Open, with each of them being known as a Grand Slam tournament.
In place since the early 1920s, it has been the ambition of tennis pros to win a championship at each of these venues over the course of their career.
This task isn’t easy, as the Australian and US Opens feature a hard court, Wimbledon a grass surface, and the French Open a clay court.
Each of these surfaces favor a different type of player, making the career Grand Slam a diffcult task, let alone a proper Grand Slam (tournament win in each of the four in a single year). Even so, this is the ultimate achievement of a pro looking to lay claim to being one of the best players in history.
Only two men (Don Budge and Rod Laver) and three women (Maureen Connolly Brinker, Margaret Court and Steffi Graf) have completed a proper Grand Slam in the modern era, making it one of the truly difficult achievements in sport.