The Origins of Tennis
As one can expect, the sport of tennis we know was not always as it is today. In fact, it was quite different. In the beginning, tennis was not played with racquets. Instead, players swatted balls over a net with the palms of their hands. This idea supposedly originated with the French, in the late twelfth century. However, it is also believed that both the Egyptians and the Arabs had a similar game, which was played with the palm.
The Makings of Modern Tennis
In 1873, tennis took a major step towards the modern sport. A retired British cavalryman named Walter Clopton Wingfield earned the title, the "father of modern tennis", by creating a game surprisingly similar to that which we play today. This involved a new type of court, the grass one. Just a year later, Wingfield patented rules for playing on grass courts as well as tennis equipment.
With these new developments, tennis quickly replaced croquet as Englandís most popular sport. In 1877, a tennis club in England decided to sponsor the first major tennis tournament in the suburb of Wimbledon. This became the unofficial world championship for both menís and womenís tennis.
Tennis in the United States
The first tennis court in the United States came as late as 1874. Mary Ewing Outerbridge introduced tennis to the United States from England. The court was set up in New York City. Not long after, in 1881, the USTA (United States Tennis Association) was established. That year, the USTA sponsored the first United States menís tournament in Rhode Island.