In the beginning of the 16th century, racquets were invented, and the sport expanded into other countries such as England. It was not until this time that tennis gained its official name. The name “tennis” comes from the French word “tenez” which means “hold!”, “receive!” or “take!”, an interjection used as a call from the server to his opponent to indicate that he is about to serve.
In 1873, Walter Wingfield invented a version of tennis that could be played outdoors on a lawn. Wingfield’s invention was a big moment in the history of tennis. Tennis became extremely popular in the 1870’s, as croquet clubs in England started to adopt the sport when it was realised that pre-existing grass croquet courts were perfect for tennis matches. The world’s first official lawn tennis tournament was the 1877 Wimbledon Championship which was held at the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club in Wimbledon, London. It was later recognised as the first Grand Slam tournament. To this day, Wimbledon is played each year and is widely considered to be one of the most important and prestigious competitive events for professional tennis players.
An interesting fact to add is that tennis is currently the fourth most popular sport around the world.
Key facts and tennis timeline:
1873: Walter Wingfield invents modern tennis.
1877: First ever Wimbledon tournament is held.
1881: Tennis expands to USA and USTA (United States Tennis Association) is established to oversee competitions. It is also the year of the first U.S. Open Championship.
1884: Maud Watson wins the first Wimbledon women’s singles competition.
1887: Charlotte “Lottie” Dod wins the first of her 5 Wimbledon women’s singles titles, and challenges dress codes to allow for increased movement.
1900: Davis Cup is played for the first time.
1913: ITF (International Tennis Federation) is created to regulate all international events and standardise a set of rules for international play.
1937: First radio broadcast of a tennis match.
1967: Wimbledon shown on colour television for the first time on BBC.
1970: Tiebreaker stipulation added to tennis rules.
1972: ATP (Association of Tennis Professionals) is formed, professional men and women tennis players are assigned worldwide rankings based on their placement in various events and tournaments throughout the year.
1989: Clay courts are deemed suitable for professional tennis matches.
2006: Roger Federer wins 3 out of 4 major tournament championships.
2007: WTA (The Women’s Tennis Association) successfully campaigns for equal prize money, with £700,000 given to both male and female singles winners.
20017: Serena Williams solidifies herself as the greatest female tennis player ever by winning a record 23rd major championship.