What does tennis called in French before?

Introduction to the French Name for Tennis

Tennis is one of the most popular sports around the world. It is a game of skill, power, and strategy that requires immense amounts of practice and dedication. But did you know that the sport used to go by a different name in French? In this article, we’ll explore what tennis used to be called in French before and how it came to be known as its current name.

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History of Tennis in France

Tennis originated in France during the Middle Ages, but the French language name for the sport changed over time. Initially, the French referred to it as “jeu de paume”, which translates to “game of the palm” in English. This name was derived from the fact that the game was played with one’s hands, as there were no racquets available yet.

The Rise of Racquets and New Name for Tennis

In the 16th century, racquets were introduced to the game, allowing for more powerful and accurate shots. As a result, the name was changed to “jeu de paume à raquette”, which translates to “game of the palm with a racquet”. This became the standard name for the sport in France until the late 19th century.

The Name “Tennis” Emerges

In 1874, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield introduced a new version of the game with standardized rules and equipment. This version was called “Sphairistike”, which is a transliteration of the Greek word for “ball game”. It was quickly anglicized and became known as “lawn tennis”. In French, the name “tennis” was derived from the English name and became the official name for the sport in France.

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The French Open

The French Open, also known as the “Roland-Garros”, is a major tennis tournament held every year in Paris, France. It is the only Grand Slam tournament still played on clay courts. The tournament has been held annually since 1925 and is one of the most prestigious events in tennis.

Famous French Tennis Players

Throughout the years, France has produced some of the most talented and successful tennis players in the world. Here are some of the most famous French tennis players:

  • René Lacoste: He was a seven-time Grand Slam champion and is credited with popularizing the sport of tennis in France. He is also the founder of the clothing brand Lacoste.
  • Mary Pierce: She is a four-time Grand Slam champion and the only French woman to have won a Grand Slam singles title.
  • Yannick Noah: He won the French Open in 1983 and is one of the most popular tennis players in France.
  • Jo-Wilfried Tsonga: He is a former world number five and has won 12 career singles titles.

Tennis in French Culture

Tennis has become a popular sport in France, with the French Open being one of the most prestigious tournaments in the world. It is also a popular pastime for many French people, with tennis courts being found in most parks and recreational areas.

The French Language and Tennis

The French language has adopted many English words related to tennis, such as “service”, “rallye”, and “lob”. Additionally, French tennis players often use English terms when they are playing, such as “backhand”, “forehand”, and “ace”.


Tennis has been a popular sport in France for centuries, with its name evolving over time. Originally known as “jeu de paume”, the sport was eventually renamed to “tennis” in the late 19th century. Since then, it has become a staple in French culture and has produced some of the most successful players in the world.