The History of Tennis Presentation by: Nikki Cannon
In the beginning
Ball games can be traced back to ancient times and the earliest representations can be found on carvings in Egyptian temples.
The Ancient Egyptians actually played ball games as part of their religious ceremonies
These traditions and the whole concept of ball games spread into Europe in the 8 th century influenced by the Moors.
It was the meeting of Eastern culture and Christianity that gave rise to tennis.
Still in the beginning
Christian Monks became interested in the religious rites of the Moors and were the first Europeans to play the game that was to become tennis.
The earliest version was called ‘La Soule’ where they would hit the ball with their hands or a stick off of walls. It became so popular that the church considered banning it!
The game started out with just using the hands but over time the leather glove was replaced by a wooden handle.
The game soon became very popular by the French royals.
It was in France that the game as we know it today really came into being.
The French players would begin a game by shouting ‘teniz’ or ‘Play!’ and this is how it got it’s name.
Real Tennis was actually very different from the game we know today. It was played indoors, the ball was hit off the walls, and the ball went into chases instead of only bouncing once.
Tennis spread throughout Europe, becoming especially popular in England.
During the period of Victorian Prosperity, enthusiasts had been trying for some time to adapt the game into an open-air sport and was brought upon by the development of vulcanized rubber. This enabled balls that were soft enough to not damage the grass, but still maintain the elasticity of rubber.
Courts were being built in many country houses and the first tennis clubs providing facilities for members started to appear.
The biggest boost for tennis came in 1875, when the All England Croquet Club decided to offer lawn tennis as an added attraction. It was so popular that the club decided to change it’s name to the All England Croquet and Tennis Club. In 1877, the first ever Lawn Tennis tournament was organized with 22 players and 200 spectators. The Wimbledon Championship was born.
The Wimbledon Championship was one of the most significant developments in the history of tennis. Over the next few years the sport gained tremendous popularity all over the world. It was here that new designs in tennis clothing and racquets were shown to the world.
In 1905, May Sutton from the United States became the first international player.
The championships came to an end in 1939 and didn’t resume play until 1946 because of World War Two.
The most dominating players in tennis were Bjorn Borg, Jimmy Connors, John McEnroe, Billy Jean King, Chris Evert, and Martina Navratilova.
Tennis is for Everyone!
Today tennis is a world-class competitive sport played and watched by millions of people all around the world! A constant program of tournaments and events takes place throughout the year and top players have become sporting icons. Something that was once a pastime for kings has become a sport for all!
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