Tennis is a racquet sport that can be played individually against a single opponent (singles) or between two teams of two players each (doubles). Each player uses a racquet that is strung with cord to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over or around a net and into the opponent’s court. The object of the game is to play the ball in such a way that the opponent is not able to play a good return. The opponent who is unable to return the ball will not gain a point, while the opposite opponent will.

Tennis is an Olympic sport and is played at all levels of society and at all ages. The sport can be played by anyone who can hold a racquet, including wheelchair users. The modern game of tennis originated in Birmingham, England, in the late 19th century as “lawn tennis”.It had close connections both to various field (“lawn”) games such as croquet and bowls as well as to the older racquet sport of real tennis. During most of the 19th-century in fact, the term “tennis” referred to real tennis, not lawn tennis: for example, in Disraeli’s novel Sybil (1845), Lord Eugene De Vere announces that he will “go down to Hampton Court and play tennis.”

The rules of tennis have changed little since the 1890s. Two exceptions are that from 1908 to 1961 the server had to keep one foot on the ground at all times, and the adoption of the tie-break in the 1970s. A recent addition to professional tennis has been the adoption of electronic review technology coupled with a point challenge system, which allows a player to contest the line call of a point.

Tennis is played by millions of recreational players and is also a popular worldwide spectator sport. The four Grand Slam tournaments (also referred to as the “Majors”) are especially popular: the Australian Open played on hard courts, the French Open played on red clay courts, Wimbledon played on grass courts, and the US Open played also on hard courts.

Court tennis is also known as royal tennis. It originated in France during the Middle Ages and became a favorite of British royalty, including Henry VIII. The progression from court tennis, which used an unresilient sheepskin ball filled with sawdust, sand, or wool, to lawn tennis depended upon invention of a ball that would bounce.


Most historians believe that tennis originated in the monastic cloisters in northern France in the 12th century, but the ball was then struck with the palm of the hand hence the name jeu de paume (“game of the palm”).

The First Tennis Court

Real Tennis Court building at Falkland Palace, housing the world’s oldest tennis court and Falkland Palace Royal Tennis Club.The Falkland Palace Royal Tennis Club (also previously called the Falkland Palace Real Tennis Club) organizes play at the real tennis court in the gardens of Falkland Palace, Fife, Scotland.

Real Tennis

The term real was first used by journalists in the early 20th century as a retronym to distinguish the ancient game from modern lawn tennis (even though the latter sport is seldom contested on lawns these days outside the few social-club-managed estates such as Wimbledon). Players of real tennis often call the game tennis, while continuing to refer to the more widely played derivative as lawn tennis

First Tennis Club

Between 1859 and 1865 Harry Gem and his friend Augurio Perera developed a game that combined elements of racquets and the Basque ball game pelota, which they played on Perera’s croquet lawn in Birmingham, England, United Kingdom.In 1872, along with two local doctors, they founded the world’s first tennis club in Leamington Spa.


  • Tennis comes from the French tenez, the plural imperative form of the verb tenir, to hold, meaning “hold!”, “receive!” or “take!”, an interjection used as a call from the server to his opponent to indicate that he is about to serve.
  • Racket derives from the Arabic rakhat, meaning the palm of the hand.
  • Deuce comes from a deux le jeu, meaning “to both is the game” (that is, the two players have equal scores).
  • The origin of the use of Love for zero is disputed. It is possible that it derives from “l’oeuf”, the French word for “egg”, representing the shape of a zero. Another possibility is that it derives from the Dutch expression “iets voor lof doen”, which means to do something for praise, implying no monetary stakes.
  • The reason for the numbering of scores being “15”, “30” and “40” is unknown. Historical sources suggest the system was originally 15, 30, 45 with the 45 simplified to 40 over time. Common theories are that it originated from the quarters of a clock, or from gambling stakes.

The First Tennis Tournament

The inaugural 1877 Wimbledon Championship was a men’s tennis tournament held at the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club in London. It was the world’s first official lawn tennis tournament, as well as the inaugural edition of what was later to be called a Grand Slam tournament or Major.

Wimbledon is considered the world’s premier tennis tournament and the priority of the Club is to maintain its leadership. To that end a long-term plan was unveiled in 1993, intended to improve the quality of the event for spectators, players, officials and neighbours.

Stage one (1994–1997) of the plan was completed for the 1997 championships and involved building the new No. 1 Court in Aorangi Park, a broadcast centre, two extra grass courts and a tunnel under the hill linking Church Road and Somerset Road.

Stage two (1997–2009) involved the removal of the old No. 1 Court complex to make way for the new Millennium Building, providing extensive facilities for players, press, officials and members, and the extension of the West Stand of the Centre Court with 728 extra seats.

Stage three (2000–2011) has been completed with the construction of an entrance building, club staff housing, museum, bank and ticket office


The game of tennis (more properly known as lawn tennis) was developed in the 1870s from the game of royal or real tennis, which has been played for centuries. While both games are similar, in that they are both based on two or four players opposing each other from different sides of a net hitting a ball back and forth, the type and size of court, method of scoring, etc., are very different.


Historians believe that the game’s ancient origin lay in 12th century northern France, where a ball was struck with the palm of the hand.Louis X of France was a keen player of jeu de paume (“game of the palm”), which evolved into real tennis, and became notable as the first person to construct indoor tennis courts in the modern style. Louis was unhappy with playing tennis out of doors and accordingly had indoor, enclosed courts made in Paris “around the end of the 13th century”.In due course this design spread across royal palaces all over Europe.In June 1316 at Vincennes, Val-de-Marne and following a particularly exhausting game, Louis drank a large quantity of cooled wine and subsequently died of either pneumonia or pleurisy, although there was also suspicion of poisoning.Because of the contemporary accounts of his death, Louis X is history’s first tennis player known by name.Another of the early enthusiasts of the game was King Charles V of France, who had a court set up at the Louvre Palace.

It wasn’t until the 16th century that racquets came into use, and the game began to be called “tennis”, from the Old French term tenez, which can be translated as “hold!”, “receive!” or “take!”, an interjection used as a call from the server to his opponent.It was popular in England and France, although the game was only played indoors where the ball could be hit off the wall. Henry VIII of England was a big fan of this game, which is now known as real tennis.During the 18th century and early 19th century, as real tennis declined, new racquet sports emerged in England.

Further, the patenting of the first lawn mower in 1830, in Britain, is strongly believed to have been the catalyst, world-wide, for the preparation of modern-style grass courts, sporting ovals, playing fields, pitches, greens, etc. This in turn led to the codification of modern rules for many sports, including lawn tennis, most football codes, lawn bowls and others

Who Invented Lawn tennis

An Englishman, Major Walter C. Wingfield, invented lawn tennis (1873) and first played it at a garden party in Wales. Called “Sphairistiké” [Gr., = ball playing] by its inventor, the early game was played on an hourglass-shaped court, widest at the baselines and narrowest at the net. In creating the new sport, Wingfield borrowed heavily from the older games of court tennis and squash racquets and probably even from the Indian game of badminton.


The word “Tennis” came into use in English in the mid-13th century from Old French, via the Anglo-Norman term Tenez, which can be translated as “hold!”, “receive!” or “take!”. A call from the server to his opponent indicating that he is about to serve.The first known appearance of the word in English literature is by poet John Gower in his poem titled ‘In Praise of Peace’ dedicated to King Henry IV and composed in 1400; “Of the tenetz to winne or lese a chase, Mai no lif wite er that the bal be ronne”. (Whether a chase is won or lost at tennis, Nobody can know until the ball is run)


The event originated in Ireland. Horses and riders raced from one town’s steeple to the next. The steeples were used as markers due to their visibility over long distances. Along the way runners inevitably had to jump streams and low stone walls separating estates.

1860-The modern athletics event originates from a two-mile (3.2 km) cross country steeplechase that formed part of the University of Oxford sports (in which many of the modern athletics events were founded) in 1860.

1865-It was replaced in 1865 by an event over barriers on a flat field, which became the modern steeplechase.

1968-It has been an Olympic event since the inception of the modern Olympics, though with varying lengths. Since the 1968 Summer Olympics the steeplechase in the Olympics has been dominated by Kenyan athletes, including the current gold medal streak since 1984 and a clean sweep of the medals at the 1992 and 2004 Games.

2005-First major championship appearance at the 2005 World Championships in Helsinki.

2008-In 2008, women’s 3,000 metres steeplechase appeared for the first time on the Olympic tracks in Beijing (see Athletics at the 2008 Summer Olympics – Women’s 3000 metres steeplechase).

1932-The steeplechase at the 1932 Olympics was run over approximately 3460 metres due to a lap scoring error.

Other divisions including masters athletics and youth athletics run 2,000 metres distances. The format for a 2,000 metre steeplechase removes the first two barriers of the first lap.

Governing Bodies

International Tennis Federation (ITF)

The International Tennis Federation (ITF) is the governing body of world tennis, made up of 210 national tennis associations or corresponding organizations of independent countries or territories.

It was established as the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF) by 12 national associations meeting at a conference in Paris, France on 1 March 1913, and discussions on rules and policy continued through 1923.

It was at this time that two compromises were reached: the title ‘world championships’ would be abolished and wording would be ‘for ever in the English language’.In 1924 it became the officially recognised organisation with authority to control lawn tennis throughout the world, with official ‘ILTF Rules of Tennis’. In 1977 it dropped the word ‘lawn’ from its title, recognising that most tennis was no longer played on grass.



The International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF) was founded on 1 March at the first General Conference in Paris, when 15 nations became the inaugural members.


Of the nations allotted voting shares of the ILTF, three nations, Norway, Canada and USA decided not to accept membership at that time and prior to the 1914 meeting declared that they would not take up the votes.


After the interruption of World War I, which broke out in 1914, the ILTF continued its work, although there were only 10 member nations retained after the war.


The International Rules Board was appointed by the Advisory Committee (Committee of Management) to overcome the problem of recognising the ILTF had the exclusive right to alter and control the rules of the game.


At the Annual General Meeting (AGM) on 16 March in Paris, the official ILTF ‘Rules of Tennis’ were adopted with public effect from 1 January 1924. USA became an affiliated member of the ILTF. The title World Championship was also dropped at this meeting but a new category of Official Championship was created for events in Great Britain, France, USA and Australia – today’s Grand Slam events.


The ILTF became the officially recognised organisation with authority to control lawn tennis throughout the world.


The Committee of Management took over from the Advisory Committee as the elected governing head of the ILTF.


A specially convened committee was set up to discuss the differences between professionals and amateurs, and the ability for amateurs to claim expenses over eight weeks of the year. The regulations governing amateurism had been defined at the Annual General Meeting of the ILTF in 1920.


The total number of affiliated nations had risen to 59. During World War II, because of the devaluation of the French Franc and the imminent invasion of Switzerland, the funds of the ILTF were transferred to Great Britain. From that time onwards the ILTF has been run from London.


The first post-war meeting was held in London at the Savoy hotel on 5 July. In total, 23 nations were represented with various nations being expelled from the ILTF in the aftermath of the war. Over the years, the nations were reinstated but others came and went with the rise and fall of other global political issues.


The International Ball Committee was set up to enquire into the standardisation of tennis balls throughout the world. It was the Committee’s recommendation that “the ILTF should endeavour to procure an apparatus designed and constructed which will enable balls to be readily and accurately tested at speeds at which the game is played.”


The eight-week rule (permitting an amateur to claim expenses for up to eight-weeks of the year) was relaxed to 210 days, allowing amateurs to claim expenses for competing in tournaments. By 1958, the ILTF was concerned that this relaxation of the rules was “encouraging players to concentrate on the game of tennis to the exclusion of all gainful occupation.”


The ILTF celebrated its 50th anniversary by launching the Federation Cup, an international women’s team competition designed to match the men’s equivalent, Davis Cup, which had been in existence since 1900, but not under the auspices of the ILTF.


After ten years of division and struggle within the ILTF an emergency meeting was called in Paris on 30 March, when 47 nations agreed in principle to the issue of “Open” tennis. A breakaway tennis circuit was organised called World Championship Tennis (WCT), running in opposition to the official ILTF circuit. The ILTF received sponsorship to organise Grand Prix tournaments allowing players to compete openly and legally for money.


The first change in scoring came when an experiment was authorised to test the tiebreak. By 1974, the tiebreak had been sanctioned as a permitted alternative to the scoring system, then at the AGM in 1988 it was decided the tiebreak system should be adopted for Davis Cup matches from 1989 onwards.


The ILTF decreed at the AGM in Italy that no player contracted to play WCT could play in any event authorised by a National Association. This meant that John Newcombe could not defend his Wimbledon title that year. In March 1972, the WCT and ILTF finally joined forces to promote a unified circuit for the benefit of all players.


As television coverage of tennis events grew, the use of yellow balls was allowed after a two year experimental period – white balls were the requirement up until this time.


There was a dispute between the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the ILTF because of the nine-month suspension imposed on Yugoslavian Nikki Pilic over his non-appearance for his country in their Davis Cup match against New Zealand. The penalty was reduced to one-month following an emergency meeting but the ATP announced that their members would boycott Wimbledon to show their strength. Eighty players withdrew from the 1973 Wimbledon Championships.


The Women’s International Professional Tennis Council (WIPTC) was formed and operated under a joint secretariat shared between the ILTF and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). It also had representatives from the tournaments and sponsors. The purpose of the Council was to promote, control and govern the organisation and development of the women’s professional circuit throughout the world.


A sad moment in some people’s minds: 100 years after the start of the Wimbledon Championships the ILTF had a change of title, dropping the word “lawn” and becoming the International Tennis Federation (ITF). The ITF also started to monitor new concepts in stringing after complaints about a double-strung racket began to emerge.


The first ITF World Champions were announced, Chris Evert and Bjorn Borg. They were chosen by two separate panels of former players.


Davis Cup nations asked the ITF to assume responsibility for the Davis Cup competition, to organise and run the event. Davis Cup had been in existence since 1900 but was not controlled by the ILTF, but rather by a Committee of Davis Cup nations.


NEC became the title sponsor of Davis Cup, enabling prize money to be given and coinciding with a 16-strong World Group being established. NEC also became the sponsor of the Federation Cup, until 1994.


The ITF moved from Wimbledon to Barons Court, west London, nearby to Queen’s Club.


Tennis returned to the Olympic Games in Seoul, Korea as a full medal sport after an absence of 64 years, in the year of the ITF’s 75th anniversary and after diligent work by ITF President Philippe Chatrier and General Secretary David Gray.


Davis Cup celebrated its 100th anniversary.


A record 142 nations entered Davis Cup


BNP Paribas took over as Davis Cup’s title sponsor, a year after it first linked up with the competition as an Official Partner.


BNP Paribas increased its partnership with the ITF by also becoming the title sponsor of Fed Cup.


After three years of research by the ITF, electronic line-calling made its official debut at the Hopman Cup in Perth.


The ITF launched its Tennis Play & Stay campaign, a recruitment and retention programme for start-up players, and also Tennis iCoach, an online resource for tennis coaches worldwide. The Tennis Anti-Doping Programme became exclusively managed by the ITF.


The ITF established an official Beach Tennis Tour consisting of 14 tournaments, which in four years grew to over 100.


Players competing in Davis Cup’s World Group and World Group play-offs began earning ATP ranking points, marking the first time that they could improve their individual ranking when representing their nation in Davis Cup.

The ITF/ATP/WTA/Grand Slam Committee adopted the new Tennis Anti-Corruption Programme, operated by the Tennis Integrity Unit, to monitor any potential match-fixing in tennis.


The ITF’s flagship competition reached its milestone when Prague played host to the 100th Davis Cup Final in which Czech Republic defeated Spain.


210 member nations came together to celebrate 100 years of the ITF. Fed Cup celebrated 50 years of competition. The ITF launched World Tennis Day on 4 March in partnership with sports promoter StarGames.


The ITF operates the three major national team competitions in the sport, the Davis Cup for men, the Fed Cup for women and the Hopman Cup, mixed teams. The ITF sanctions the four grand slams: the Australian Open, the French Open, Wimbledon, and the US Open.

Structuring the Game

The ITF structures the game by sanctioning the following international circuits and events:

  • ITF Junior Circuit
  • ITF Men’s Circuit
  • ITF Women’s Circuit
  • ITF Seniors Circuit
  • ITF Beach Tennis Tour
  • UNIQLO Wheelchair Tennis Tour
  • Hopman Cup

Developing the Game

The ITF develops the games through its worldwide development programme. The Grand Slam Development Fund and ITF invest more than US $4 million per annum into initiatives for the growth of tennis around the world

Promoting the Game:

The ITF promotes tennis through television, PR, marketing, event management and sponsorship. The official websites of the ITF also reach out to players and fans around the world, including, and

Game Rules

The Singles Game

  • Rule 1 – The Court
  • Rule 2 – Permanent Fixtures
  • Rule 3 – The Ball
  • Rule 4 – The Racket
  • Rule 5 – Server and Receiver
  • Rule 6 – Choice of Ends and Service
  • Rule 7 – The Service
  • Rule 8 – Foot Fault
  • Rule 9 – Delivery of Service
  • Rule 10 – Service Fault
  • Rule 11 – Second Service
  • Rule 12 – When to Serve
  • Rule 13 – The Let
  • Rule 14 – The “Let” in Service
  • Rule 15 – Order of Service
  • Rule 16 – When Players Change Ends
  • Rule 17 – The Ball in Play
  • Rule 18 – Server Wins Point
  • Rule 19 – Receiver Wins Point
  • Rule 20 – Player Loses Point
  • Rule 21 – Player Hinders Opponent
  • Rule 22 – Ball Falls on Line
  • Rule 23 – Ball Touches Permanent Fixtures
  • Rule 24 – A Good Return
  • Rule 25 – Hindrance of a Player
  • Rule 26 – Score in a Game
  • Rule 27 – Score in a Set
  • Rule 28 – Maximum Number of Sets
  • Rule 29 – Role of Court Officials
  • Rule 30 – Continuous Play and Rest Periods
  • Rule 31 – Coaching
  • Rule 32 – Changing Balls
  • The Doubles Game
  • Rule 34 – The Doubles Court
  • Rule 35 – Order of Service in Doubles
  • Rule 36 – Order of Receiving in Doubles
  • Rule 37 – Service Out of Turn in Doubles
  • Rule 38 – Error in Order of Receiving in Doubles
  • Rule 39 – Service Fault in Doubles
  • Rule 40 – Playing the Ball in Doubles



The tennis racket is perhaps seen as the most important piece of equipment, and has traditionally attracted the most attention in terms of technological development.

One reason for this could be that the racket is not shared by the players and can be tailored to the physiology and playing style of the individual. That is, it is seen as having central importance in how the player performs.


The ball, along with the racket, is arguably the most important piece of tennis equipment. The tennis ball must lie within the specifications laid down in the Rules of Tennis, while providing consistent playing properties and being sufficiently durable to withstand repeated high-speed impacts with the racket and surface.


Although players may focus on getting the best racket frame they can, it will rarely make contact with the ball. It’s the interlaced pattern of string that does that, and so it plays an important role (albeit in combination with the racket frame) in determining the outcome of the shot.

During a typical shot, the strings impact the ball with such force that both deform extensively, yet within 5 milliseconds (5 thousandths of a second) the strings have recovered their original shape and the ball has left the strings (the ball continues to vibrate for a short time afterwards).


Tennis is played on a variety of surfaces, including clay, carpet, grass, and hard court. These main surfaces are reflected by the Grand Slam tournaments, which are played on hard court (US Open and Australian Open), red clay (Roland Garros), and grass (Wimbledon).


The net is attached between two poles and divides with an equal distance the two sides of the court. The Height of the net is in its centre of 0,914m and on its two sides of 1,07m.