History of Tennis: Do You Know These Amazing Curiosities?! - STWsports

History of Tennis: Do You Know These Amazing Curiosities?!

Playing with hands? A court with a weird shape? Yes and yes!


Did you know that the history of tennis is not as recent as it seems? How about exploring it more extensively, bringing to light its origins and its evolution over the centuries?

Knowing the past is fundamental for creating a bright future – and this universal truth is extremely valid in the world of sports, too. Follow a brief history of tennis and see how interesting its journey has been to the present day.


intro history of tennisImage: Pexels

The (summarized) history of tennis

For you to learn in a light and fluid way, enjoy the chronological version of the facts:



It is believed that the games most similar to tennis date back to the 5th century. It was practiced in Europe and Egypt, but in a much more rudimentary way. At the time, it was known as lawn tennis.

There were no rackets at that time; the ball was hit with the hands. Because of this, the French, considered the real pioneers of tennis, named the sport jeu de paume (or “palm game” in free translation) in the 12th century.

The big difference between lawn tennis and its French version lies in the rules of the game. The format of the sport was much more similar to the current one – even though they used their hands, and not rackets.


No one knows for sure who was the true precursor of court tennis. However, the British Walter Wingfield is considered one of the most important names in history in this sense. He wrote the first official rules of the sport in 1873.

But before it was called tennis, it was called sphairistike. Very different from today, isn’t it?

The gloves used to play were replaced by rackets. With this, new techniques were created over time, making the sport increasingly robust and fascinating.

Thus, this game evolved from a medieval game that used the palms of the hands to a global category, with very specific equipment and rules since the 19th century. Very few changes have been made since then.

Amazing curiosities about tennis

Knowing more about the history of this incredible sport will make a big difference from now on. A certain degree of contextualization is necessary for you to understand the weight of the words that will follow.

The first tennis tournament in history

It took place in 1877 in Wimbledon, England. Since then, this British region has become a global reference when it comes to tennis tournaments. To this day, it is considered the most important tournament of the sport.

The All England Lawn Tennis and Cricket Club was responsible for creating the competition. At the time, 22 participants took part in the tournament; currently, only the best players in the world can reach such a fierce competition.

Nobles fell in love with the sport

In the 16th century, European nobility began to adopt tennis as a refined and fun sport, great for socializing with other members of the Court.

As expected, it was because of this that certain spaces were built to accommodate the wealthiest. Thanks to this, the courts began to resemble the current format, although with some substantial differences.

playing history of tennisImagem: TennisPredict.com

Hand tennis still exists

Although court tennis has evolved a lot and adopted rackets instead of gloves, there are still hand tennis enthusiasts. As the name suggests, athletes use their palms to hit the balls and perform incredible plays.

However, the differences go beyond the lack of rackets. For example, the court is smaller and is usually drawn on the ground, in open spaces. There are exceptions, of course, but they are not as common as classic tennis courts.

You probably have never heard of this modality; it is, undoubtedly, less prestigious and popular. But it is still a very fun way to train and have fun with friends.

The tennis players with the most titles

Do you have any idea who the athletes who have won the most titles throughout their careers are? According to information from the Olympic website, the current greatest winners are:

  1. Roger Federer: 103 trophies
  2. Novak Djokovic: 94 trophies
  3. Rafael Nadal: 92 trophies

Truly impressive results, there’s no denying it.

Meaning of the word

“Tennis” is a word derived from the Anglo-Norman term “tenez,” which means “take heed.” It makes a lot of sense; after all, controlling the court is one of the most important characteristics of any athlete.

Wearing white was mandatory

For a long time, it was necessary to wear white clothes to play tennis. It was only in the 1960s and 1970s that this reality changed, and other visuals were introduced to sportspeople.

The oldest tennis court in the world

The Real Tennis Court, located at Hampton Court Palace in London, was created in 1877. It is used to this day.

King Henry VIII loved this court; it was his favorite for practicing the sport in his leisure time.

The shape of the courts was different

In the beginning, tennis courts were not rectangular. They had an

hourglass shape, which made the dynamics of the sport quite different (and interesting, it should be noted).

Read more: Find partners and tennis courts near you

A Distinct Feature of Wimbledon

Did you know that Wimbledon is the only major tournament that takes place on a grass court? For this purpose, the caretakers cut the grass to precisely 8 millimeters in height.

All the other major tournaments use clay or hard courts, which are the most popular materials.

Which of these curiosities did you know?

It’s fascinating how a sport, seemingly simple and straight to the point, changed so much over the ages, isn’t it? It evolved from a game that used the palms of the hands to incorporate rackets, special clothing, and specific rules.

Thanks to all this organization, the sport became popular worldwide and is one of the main attractions during the Olympics. Few individuals change the channel when an intense tennis competition is happening.

Of course, this article only contains a few curiosities about the topic. There’s much more to be discovered around the world


Photo of author

Sophia Silva

Sophia Silva is a writer who has been writing for more than 5 years about technology. Currently, she focuses on cutting-edge technologies and current events, both in the areas of software and hardware.

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