Tuesday, September 15, 2020

Sports & Games - 19C Women Playing Tennis

Horace Henry Cauty (English genre painter, 1846-1909) The Tennis Match

The modern form of tennis evolved in the 19C. Between 1859 & 1865, in Birmingham, England, Major Harry Gem, a solicitor, & his friend Augurio Perera, a Spanish merchant, combined elements of the game of rackets & the Spanish ball game Pelota playing it on a croquet lawn in Edgbaston. In 1872, both men moved to Leamington Spa; & in 1874, with 2 doctors from the Warneford Hospital, they founded the world's 1st tennis club, the Leamington Tennis Club.

In December 1873, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield designed & patented a similar game—which he called Sphairistik√® (from ancient Greek meaning "skill at playing at ball" soon known simply as "sticky") for the amusement of his guests at a garden party on his estate of Nantclwyd, in Llanelidan, Wales. He likely based his game on the evolving sport of outdoor tennis including real tennis.

Much of modern tennis terminology also derives from this period, as Wingfield borrowed both the name and much of the French vocabulary of real tennis and applied them to his new game.   Tennis comes from the French tenez, the imperative form of the verb tenir, to hold. This was a cry used by the player serving in royal tennis, meaning "I am about to serve!"   Racquet comes from raquette, which derives from the Arabic rakhat, meaning the palm of the hand. Deuce comes from √† deux le jeu, meaning "to both is the game" (that is, the two players have equal scores). The origin of the use of Love for zero is disputed. It is possible that it derives from "l'oeuf," the French word for "egg," representing the shape of a zero.