The modern game of tennis (originally called lawn tennis) was patented this date in 1874 by Walter Wingfield of Pimlico, England. It had close connections both to various field (“lawn”) games such as croquet and bowls, as well as to the older racket sport of real tennis. During most of the 19th century, in fact, the term “tennis” referred to real tennis, not lawn tennis.
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 tennis racket 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 valid return. The player who is unable to return the ball will not gain a point, while the opposite player will.
The rules of tennis have changed little since the 1890s. 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.