Tennis request from 1876
Tennis request from 1876

Tennis originated in the monasteries of France in the 10th and 11th centuries. Many of the terms used in tennis stem from these French origins.

The original game (“real tennis”) was played in a huge indoor court with angled walls and galleries at various points.

Lawn tennis was developed as an outdoor version of real tennis but was not viable until rubber balls were invented in the middle of the 19th century. (The real tennis balls were made of cloth which would rebound off stone or brick walls but not a grass lawn.)

Lawn tennis started to become popular from about 1873 when several people claim to have devised the game. By 1874 it spread to America when Mary Outerbridge saw the game played by Englishmen in Bermuda. She introduced the game to her brother who was on the board of the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club. From there it quickly spread to clubs along the east coast of the United States.

The first tennis championship at Wimbledon was held in 1877.

By 1880, the game had spread to Australia, by 1886 to New Zealand and by 1890 to Canada. In its early years, the game was dominated by the Dougherty brothers who did much to establish its popularity.

In 1909, the clay tennis court was invented in England by Claude Brown to allow the game to be played in areas where grass did not grow in winter.

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