Some believe that tennis was practiced all the way back in the times of Homer and Ovid.
There are also accounts of a similar game played by the Toltec Indians of Mexico.
Frescos in Egypt, Spain, and Renaissance Italy depict a game much like that of tennis.
In addition, several books in the 16th century were written about games akin to tennis.
But of all the educated guesses, one of the more popular belieft is that tennis has its
origins in the late 19th century in Great Britain.
Present day tennis most likely has its origins in the "Jeu de Paume", which was practiced at the
King's Court in the 13th century. Tennis spread throughout Europe, finding great support in Great
Britain. At the foot of the Windsor Castle ramparts, and in the majority of royal British residences,
a "tennys courte" could always be found. This trend was credited to Henry VII, who had four courts
built on the land surrounding Whitahall Palace. The word "tenetz", which was cried out by the
player upon serving the ball to his opponent, eventually gained acceptance throughout Europe and became
the deciding factor in the unification of the "Jeu de Paume".
The First Tournament at Wimbledon
The gentleman of the All England Croquet Club of Wimbledon, founded in 1869, decided to offer
tennis to their members. In 1877, after having expelled the croquet players from the managing
committe, the directors of the club decided to organize a tennis competition open to all its
members. The Field magazine sponsored the event, with the prize of a silver cup worth 25 guineas.
Twenty-two competitors signed up.
Spencer Gore, who was already a master in the art of intimidation, won the first Wimbledon tournament.
In 1883, the dimension of the tennis court were established and have not changed since then.
The first international match at Wimbledon took place in July 1883 when the Clark brothers,
representing the U.S., competed against the Renshaw twins, representing Great Britain.
The Origins of the Scoring System
Jean Gosselin, a grammarian, wrote in 1579 that the winning score of 60 came from a sexageismal
system widlely used in the 14th and 15th centuries for the weight and values of coins. Sixty was
a reference number, just as 100 is in the metric system. One-sixth of a circle is 60 degrees, with
each degree comprised of 60 minutes, and each minute 60 seconds. In order to win the game, the
player used the dial of a clock as a reference: 15, 30 and 45 (45 was soon simplified to 40 for
A tie score upon attaining the third point was expressed as a "a deux", signifying that the
winner would have to win the set by two points. In English, "a duex" became "deuce". As for the
word "love", which represents a score of zero, there exist several explanations. Some believe it
comes from the French word "l'oeuf", whcih has more or less the same shape as a zero. Another
popular belief is that this expression came from the transformation of the word "love",
synonymous with "nothing"; hence the popular expressions, "for the love of the game".