Most historians believe that tennis originated 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"). It was not until the 16th century that rackets came into use, and the game began to be called "tennis." 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 historians now refer to as real tennis.
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The Davis Cup, an annual competition between men's national teams, dates to 1900. The analogous competition for women's national teams, the Fed Cup, was founded as the Federation Cup in 1963 to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the ITF also known as International Tennis Federation.
In 1926, promoter C.C. Pyle created the first professional tennis tour with a group of American and French tennis players playing exhibition matches to paying audiences. The most notable of these early professionals were the American Vinnie Richards and the Frenchwoman Suzanne Lenglen. Once a player turned pro he or she could not compete in the major (amateur) tournaments.
In 1968, commercial pressures and rumors of some amateurs taking money under the table led to the abandonment of this distinction, inaugurating the open era, in which all players could compete in all tournaments, and top players were able to make their living from tennis. With the beginning of the open era, the establishment of an international professional tennis circuit, and revenues from the sale of television rights, tennis's popularity has spread worldwide, and the sport has shed its upper/middle-class English-speaking image (although it is acknowledged that this stereotype still exists).
Source: Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
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 the English language 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".