Life on the CourtsJr. Tennis

A Brief History of Tennis

For nearly 1,000 years, tennis has been played around the world. The game began in northern France, in monastic cloisters in the 1100s. But instead of using a racquet, players struck the ball with the flat of the palm. Five hundreds years later, players began using racquets. Incredibly popular — King Henry VIII was an avid player — many of the original courts from this time can be seen today at Oxford, Falkland Palace and Hampton Court Palace. Although the game originated in France, many of the courts were destroyed during the French Revolution.

Who Invented Tennis?

No one is sure who invented tennis, but its French origins as the “game of the palm” are quite clear. Tennis even played a role in the French Revolution, when the Tennis Court Oath was signed by nearly every member of the Third Estate. The National Assembly members, locked out of the palace chambers, congregated on a nearby “game of the palm” court to vote for the creation of a constitution. Although the French Revolution occurred well after the introduction of tennis racquets, the game’s importance to royalty was well established.

The Rules of Tennis

The International Tennis Federation governs the Rules of Tennis. The Rules of Tennis are followed worldwide and the guide is published in English, French and Spanish. They are updated on an annual basis, and include several editions. There are separate guides for professionals, juniors, seniors, tournaments and wheelchair circuits. In addition, private clubs may also create house rules for tournaments and competitive play.

Fun Facts About Tennis

Tennis has a long and proud history dating back nearly 1,000 years, but it’s also a sport that has evolved over the centuries. For example:
  • The All England Tennis Club, where Wimbledon is played every year, is the only major championship to be played on grass courts. The Club was the first to use rectangular-shaped courts in 1875. Prior to 1875, the court resembled an hourglass. The Australian Open and U.S. Open are played on hardcourts, and the French Open is played on red clay.
  • Tennis balls at Wimbledon were never yellow prior to 1986. The ball color changed to make it easier for players to see it in the air.
  • Tennis players wore long skirts and pants until 1932, when a player named Henry Austin wore shorts.
  • Although modern strings are made from synthetic materials, for the first 100 years, tennis racquet strings were made from animal entrails.
  • Margaret Smith Court holds the record or the most Grand Slam singles titles. She won 24 singles championships.
  • The U.S. Open was originally played at the West Side Tennis Club in Forest Hills, NY. Arthur Ashe was the first African American player to win the Open, and the new Queens tennis stadium was named Arthur Ashe Stadium.
  • Venus Williams holds the record for the fastest serve by a woman at 205km per hour. She and her sister Serena are the first sisters to win Olympic gold medals for tennis.
Play Tennis at Marin Country Club
For more information about tennis at Marin Country Club, contact us at (410) 376-7478.