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Tennis

 

Tennis is a sport usually played between two players (singles) or between two teams of two players each (doubles). Each player uses a racquet that is strung with cord to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over or around a net and into the opponent's court. The object of the game is to play the ball in such a way that the opponent is not able to play a good return.[1] Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society at all ages. The sport can be played by anyone who can hold a racquet, including people in wheelchairs.

The modern game of tennis originated in Birmingham, England, in the late 19th century as "lawn tennis".[2] It had close connections both to various field ("lawn") games such as croquet and bowls as well as to the older raquet sport of real tennis. During most of the 19th-century in fact, the term "tennis" referred to real tennis, not lawn tennis: for example, in Disraeli's novel Sybil (1845), Lord Eugene De Vere announces that he will "go down to Hampton Court and play tennis.".[3]

The rules of tennis have changed little since the 1890s. Two exceptions are that from 1908 to 1961 the server had to keep one foot on the ground at all times, and the adoption of the tie-break in the 1970s. A recent addition to professional tennis has been the adoption of electronic review technology coupled with a point challenge system, which allows a player to contest the line call of a point.

Tennis is enjoyed by millions of recreational players and is also a hugely popular worldwide spectator sport, especially the four Grand Slam tournaments (also referred to as the "Majors"): the Australian Open played on hard courts, the French Open played on red clay courts, Wimbledon played on grass courts, and the US Open played also on hard courts.

History

Predecessors

Historians believe that the game's ancient origin lay in 12th century northern France, where a ball was struck with the palm of the hand. Louis X of France was a keen player of jeu de paume (“game of the palm”), which evolved into real tennis, and became notable as the first person to construct indoor tennis courts in the modern style. Louis was unhappy with playing tennis out of doors and accordingly had indoor, enclosed courts made in Paris "around the end of the 13th century".[4] In due course this design spread across royal palaces all over Europe.[4] Unfortunately, in June 1316 at Vincennes, Val-de-Marne and following a particularly exhausting game, Louis drank a large quantity of cooled wine and subsequently died of either pneumonia or pleurisy, although there was also suspicion of poisoning.[5] Because of the contemporary accounts of his death, Louis X is history's first tennis player known by name.[5] Another of the early enthusiasts of the game was King Charles V of France, who had a court set up at the Louvre Palace.[6]

It wasn't until the 16th century that racquets came into use, and the game began to be called "tennis", from the Old French term tenez, which can be translated as "hold!", "receive!" or "take!", an interjection used as a call from the server to his opponent.[7] It was popular in England and France, although the game was only played indoors where the ball could be hit off the wall. Henry VIII of England was a big fan of this game, which is now known as real tennis.[8] During the 18th century and early 19th century, as real tennis declined, new racquet sports emerged in England.[9]

Further, the patenting of the first lawn mower in 1830, in Britain, is strongly believed to have been the catalyst, world-wide, for the preparation of modern-style grass courts, sporting ovals, playing fields, pitches, greens, etc. This in turn led to the codification of modern rules for many sports, including lawn tennis, most football codes, lawn bowls and others.[10]

Origins of the modern game

Between 1859 and 1865 Harry Gem and his friend Augurio Perera developed a game that combined elements of racquets and the Basque ball game pelota, which they played on Perera's croquet lawn in Birmingham, United Kingdom.[11][12] In 1872, along with two local doctors, they founded the world's first tennis club in Leamington Spa.[13]

In December 1873, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield designed and patented a similar game – which he called sphairistike (Greek: σφάίρίστική, from ancient Greek meaning "skill at playing at ball"), and was soon known simply as "sticky" — for the amusement of his guests at a garden party on his estate of Nantclwyd, in Llanelidan, Wales.[14] Sport historians agree that Wingfield deserves much of the credit for the development of modern tennis.[9][15] According to Honor Godfrey, museum curator at Wimbledon, Wingfield "popularized this game enormously. He produced a boxed set which included a net, poles, racquets, balls for playing the game -- and most importantly you had his rules. He was absolutely terrific at marketing and he sent his game all over the world. He had very good connections with the clergy, the law profession, and the aristocracy and he sent thousands of sets out in the first year or so, in 1874."[16] The world's oldest tennis tournament, the Wimbledon Championships, were first played in London in 1877.[16][17] The first Championships culminated a significant debate on how to standardize the rules.[16]

In America in 1874 Mary Ewing Outerbridge, a young socialite, returned from Bermuda with a sphairistike set. She laid out a tennis court at the Staten Island Cricket Club at Camp Washington, Tompkinsville, New York. The first American National championship was played there in September 1880. An Englishman named O.E Woodhouse won the singles title, and a silver cup worth $100, by defeating Canadian I.F. Hellmuth.[18] There was also a doubles match which was won by a local pair. There were different rules at each club. The ball in Boston was larger than the one normally used in New York. On 21 May 1881, the United States National Lawn Tennis Association (now the United States Tennis Association) was formed to standardize the rules and organize competitions.[19] The U.S. National Men's Singles Championship, now the US Open, was first held in 1881 at the Newport Casino, Newport, Rhode Island.[20] The U.S. National Women's Singles Championships were first held in 1887 in Philadelphia.[21]

Tennis was also popular in France, where the French Championships dates to 1891 although until 1925 it was open only to tennis players who were members of French clubs.[22] Thus, Wimbledon, the US Open, the French Open, and the Australian Open (dating to 1905) became and have remained the most prestigious events in tennis.[17][23] Together these four events are called the Majors or Slams (a term borrowed from bridge rather than baseball).[24]

The comprehensive rules promulgated in 1924 by the International Lawn Tennis Federation, now known as the International Tennis Federation (ITF), have remained largely stable in the ensuing eighty years, the one major change being the addition of the tie-break system designed by James Van Alen.[25] That same year, tennis withdrew from the Olympics after the 1924 Games but returned 60 years later as a 21-and-under demonstration event in 1984. This reinstatement was credited by the efforts by the then ITF President Philippe Chatrier, ITF General Secretary David Gray and ITF Vice President Pablo Llorens, and support from IOC President Juan Antonio Samaranch. The success of the event was overwhelming and the IOC decided to reintroduce tennis as a full medal sport at Seoul in 1988.[26][27]

The Davis Cup, an annual competition between men's national teams, dates to 1900.[28] The analogous competition for women's national teams, the Fed Cup, was founded as the Federation Cup in 1963 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the ITF.[29]

In 1926, promoter C. C. Pyle established the first professional tennis tour with a group of American and French tennis players playing exhibition matches to paying audiences.[23][30] The most notable of these early professionals were the American Vinnie Richards and the Frenchwoman Suzanne Lenglen.[23][31] Once a player turned pro he or she could not compete in the major (amateur) tournaments. This resulted in a schism between the amateur and pro tennis ranks that would last until the advent of the Open Era.[23]

In 1968, commercial pressures and rumors of some amateurs taking money under the table led to the abandonment of this distinction, inaugurating the open era, in which all players could compete in all tournaments, and top players were able to make their living from tennis. With the beginning of the open era, the establishment of an international professional tennis circuit, and revenues from the sale of television rights, tennis's popularity has spread worldwide, and the sport has shed its upper/middle-class English-speaking image[32] (although it is acknowledged that this stereotype still exists).[32][33]

In 1954, Van Alen founded the International Tennis Hall of Fame, a non-profit museum in Newport, Rhode Island.[34] The building contains a large collection of tennis memorabilia as well as a hall of fame honoring prominent members and tennis players from all over the world. Each year, a grass-court tournament and an induction ceremony honoring new Hall of Fame members are hosted on its grounds

 

 

 

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