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Sunday, 11 February 2007 07:38

Tennis - History

Female player attempts backhand shot
Tennis goes back to a game called jeu de paume, played in 11th century France

Tennis goes back to a game called jeu de paume, played in the monastery courtyards of 11th century France, where walls and sloping roofs formed part of the court and players used the palm of their hand to hit the ball.

Two forms of tennis emerged in England in the Victorian era. One, called "pelota", was inspired by a Spanish ball game. The other was based on the older sport of indoor tennis or real tennis (royal tennis), notably played by King Henry VIII.

Tennis spread rapidly in both Great Britain and the US. The first All-England Championships at Wimbledon were played in 1877. In Paris in 1913, the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF) was formed by 12 national associations to control lawn tennis throughout the world. In 1977, it dropped the word "lawn" from its title, in recognition that most tennis was not played on grass. The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is now made up of 202 national tennis associations.

Wimbledon, the US Open, the French Open and the Australian Open have became the most prestigious events in tennis, reflecting the dominance of the US, Britain, France and Australia in the sport. Together, these four events are called "Grand Slams" and offer large sums of prize money.

When the distinction between amateur and professional players was abolished, tennis truly became a global sport, with champions winning Grand Slams from many countries.

World-class Asian players include Thailand's Paradorn Srichaphan, doubles aces Leander Paes and Mahesh Bhupati of India and Japan's Ai Sugayama.

Tennis hit its way into the third Asian Games in Tokyo, Japan, in 1958.


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