Tennis has a long history, but the birth of the game played today is thought to have taken place in England.
11th century beginnings
The earliest recognisable relative to tennis, as we know it, was "jeu de paume", played in 11th century France. Played in a monastery courtyard, the game used the walls and sloping roofs as part of the court and the palm of the hand to hit the ball.
Tennis overtakes croquet
By the late 19th century, the popularity of lawn tennis had overtaken croquet in England. For this reason, the All England Croquet Club embraced the sport and designated certain croquet lawns to be used for tennis. It was this natural supply of venues combined with the already existing framework for a racquet game that resulted in the birth of the modern game in England.
An international sport
In 1913, lawn tennis was becoming increasingly popular worldwide. Therefore it seemed natural that the existing National Tennis Associations should join forces to ensure the game was uniformly structured. An international conference was held between 12 nations in Paris and the International Lawn Tennis Federation (ILTF) was created.
Tennis has a long Olympic history but withdrew from the programme after 1924. It did not return as a medal sport until 1988. Professionals are now welcome to compete, and the Olympic competition includes men's and women's singles and men's and women's doubles.
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