Birth of lawn tennis

The modern sport is tied to two separate inventions.

Between 1859 and 1865, in Birmingham, England, Major Harry Gem, a solicitor, and his friend Augurio Perera, a Spanish merchant, combined elements of the game of rackets and the Spanish ball game Pelota and played it on a croquet lawn in Edgbaston. In 1872, both men moved to Leamington Spa and in 1874, with two doctors from the Warneford Hospital, founded the world's first tennis club, the Leamington Tennis Club.


·         Tennis comes from the French tenez, the plural imperative form of the verb tenir, to hold, meaning "hold!", "receive!" or "take!", an interjection used as a call from the server to his opponent to indicate that he is about to serve.

·         Racket derives from the Arabic rakhat, meaning the palm of the hand.

·         Deuce comes from à deux le jeu, meaning "to both is the game" (that is, the two players have equal scores).

·         The origin of the use of Love for zero is disputed. It is possible that it derives from "l'oeuf", the French word for "egg", representing the shape of a zero. Another possibility is that it derives from the Dutch expression "iets voor lof doen", which means to do something for praise, implying no monetary stakes.

·         The reason for the numbering of scores being "15", "30" and "40" is unknown. Historical sources suggest the system was originally 15, 30, 45 with the 45 simplified to 40 over time. Common theories are that it originated from the quarters of a clock, or from gambling stakes.



Tournaments and tours

The Four Majors

The four Majors or Grand Slam tournaments, the four biggest competitions on the tennis circuit, are Wimbledon, the US Open, the French Open, and the Australian Open. Since the mid 1920s they became and have remained the most prestigious events in tennis. Winning these four tournaments in the same year is called the Grand Slam (a term borrowed from bridge).

1877: Wimbledon
The Championships, Wimbledon, were founded by the All England Club in 1877 to raise money for the club. The first Championships were contested by 22 men and the winner received a Silver Gilt Cup proclaiming the winner to be "The All England Lawn Tennis Club Single Handed Champion of the World".The first Championships culminated a significant debate on how to standardize the rules. The following year it was recognized as the official British Championships, although it was open to international competitors. In 1884 the Ladies Singles and Gentlemen's Doubles Championships were inaugurated, followed by the Ladies and Mixed Doubles in 1913.

1877: The Championships


Venue change
1877: Worple Road, 
1922: Church Road, 


1881: U.S. Open

Tennis was first played in the U.S. at the home of Mary Ewing Outerbridge at the Staten Island Cricket Club in New Brighton Staten Island, New York in 1874. In 1881, the desire to play tennis competitively led to the establishment of tennis clubs.

The exact location of the club was under what is now the Staten Island Ferry terminal. The first American National tournament in 1880 was played there. An Englishman named O.E Woodhouse won the singles match. 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 NY. On May 21, 1881, the United States National Lawn Tennis Association (now the United States Tennis Association) was formed to standardize the rules and organize competitions.

The US National Men's Singles Championship, now the US Open, was first held in 1881 at Newport, Rhode Island. The U.S. National Women's Singles Championships were first held in 1887 in Philadelphia. 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.

The tournament was made officially one of the tennis 'Majors' from 1924 by the ILTF (though regarded unofficially as such before that time)

Name change
1881: U.S. National Championship
1968: U.S. Open

Surface change
Clay Har-Tru
Hard DecoTurf

Venue change (men's championship)
Forest Hills
1924: Forest Hills
Flushing Meadows

US Open.svg

The French Open

Tennis was predominantly a sport of the English-speaking world, dominated by Great Britain and the United States. It was also popular in France, where the French Open dates to 1891 as the Championat de France International de Tennis. This tournament was not recognised as a Major or Grand Slam tournament until it was opened to all nationalities in 1925.

Name change
1891: Championnat de France
1925: Championnats Internationaux de France
1928: Tournoi de Roland Garros

Surface change
Clay and Sand 1909Clay

Venue change
1891-1908: shared by Tennis Club de Paris)/Ile de Puteaux, Paris/Racing Club de France
1909: Societe Athletique de la Villa Primrose, Bordeaux
1910: Racing Club de France, Paris
1925: Stade Français, Paris
1926: Racing Club de France, Paris
1927: Stade Français, Paris
1928Stade Roland Garros, Paris


1905: Australian Open

The Australian Open was first played in 1905 as The Australasian (Australia and New Zealand) Championships. Because of its geographic remoteness, historically, the event did not gain attendance from the top tennis players. It became one of the major tennis tournaments starting in 1924 (designated by the ILTF). In 1927, because of New Zealand tennis authorities releasing their commitments to the tournament, it became known as the Australian Championships. For most of the 1970s and the early 1980s, the event lacked participation from top ranked tennis professionals. Since its move to Melbourne Park in 1988, the Australian Open has gained the popularity of the other three Grand Slams.

Name change
1905: Australasian Championships
1927: Australian Championships
1969: Australian Open

Surface change
Hard Rebound Ace
Hard Plexicushion

Venue change
1906 -
Christchurch and alternated in Melbourne, Sydney, AdelaideBrisbane andPerth. In 1912 at Hastings
Melbourne Park

Australian Open logo.svg

The Davis Cup

In 1898, Dwight F. Davis of the Harvard University tennis team designed a tournament format with the idea of challenging the British to a tennis showdown.[53] The first match, between the United States and Great Britain was held in Boston, Massachusetts in 1900.[54] The American team, of which Dwight Davis was a part, surprised the British by winning the first three matches. By 1905 the tournament had expanded to include BelgiumAustriaFrance, and Australia, a combined team from Australia and New Zealand that competed jointly until 1913.


The tournament was initially known as the International Lawn Tennis Challenge. It was renamed the Davis Cup following the death of Dwight Davis in 1945. The tournament has vastly expanded and, on its 100th anniversary in 1999, 130 nations competed.