Who first played tennis?

The Origins of Tennis

Tennis is a popular sport that has been played around the world for centuries. In fact, it is believed that the first known game of tennis was played in France in the 12th century. But who first played tennis? To answer this question, we must look back into the history of the sport to determine who the first players of tennis were.

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Early Forms of Tennis

The game of tennis has its roots in ancient Greece and Rome, where it was played as a form of handball. In the 10th century, a version of tennis called jeu de paume (“game of the palm”) started to become popular in France. This was a game where players used their hands to hit a shuttlecock-like object over a net.

The Birth of Modern Tennis

In 1872, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield invented the modern game of tennis. He developed a court and equipment that allowed for a more competitive game to be played. His version of the game quickly gained popularity among the English upper class and was even adopted by the All England Croquet Club in 1877.

The First Professional Players of Tennis

The first professional players of tennis were the English players Major Wingfield, Henry Jones, and John Jaques. These three men were the first players to compete in a professional tournament, the All England Croquet Club tournament in 1877.

The Development of Tennis in Europe

Soon after its introduction to England, tennis spread across Europe. In 1881, courts were built in Berlin and other cities in Germany. Tennis was also popular in Austria, Belgium, and Italy. In 1891, the first official tennis tournament in Europe was held in Hamburg, Germany.

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The Introduction of Tennis to the United States

In 1874, the sport of tennis was introduced to the United States by Mary Ewing Outerbridge. She brought a set of tennis equipment from Bermuda and set up a court at the Staten Island Cricket and Baseball Club in New York. This marked the beginning of the sport’s popularity in the United States.

The First Professional Tennis Tournament in the United States

The first professional tennis tournament in the United States was the U.S. National Singles Championship, which was held in 1881. This tournament was won by Richard Sears, who went on to win the tournament seven times.

The Development of Modern Tennis

In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, tennis continued to evolve. The game was standardized and rules were codified to make it more consistent. The Davis Cup, which is the oldest international team competition in tennis, was established in 1900.

The Expansion of Tennis

Tennis has continued to grow in popularity over the years. It is now an Olympic sport and is played on a professional level around the world. The four Grand Slam tournaments (the Australian Open, French Open, Wimbledon, and US Open) are the most prestigious tennis tournaments and attract the best players in the world.


Tennis has come a long way since its invention in the 12th century. It is now one of the most popular sports in the world and is enjoyed by millions of people. While the exact identity of the first players of tennis is unknown, we can be sure that Major Walter Clopton Wingfield and his contemporaries were the first to bring the modern game of tennis to life.

Who first played tennis? While the exact identity of the first players of tennis is unknown, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield and his contemporaries are believed to be the first to bring the modern game of tennis to life.