Sporting Vernacular 18. Lawn Tennis
Monday 21 June 1999
The word "tennis" (probably from the French tenez - to hold or receive - which the server used to shout before serving), had been around for centuries, but in 1874, when Major Walter Clopton Wingfield applied for a patent for his "New and Improved Portable Court for Playing the Ancient Game of Tennis", the name he went for was Sphairistike (from the Greek Sphairos, "ball").
Fortunately, the Old Harrovian chums who helped him test his court dissuaded him. They conducted their research in Lord Lansdowne's garden in Berkeley Square, and the peer's memoirs record that he told Wingfield the name would not work. Arthur Balfour, who had been Lansdowne's fag at Eton and was later Prime Minister, suggested "lawn tennis". A craze was born.
Meanwhile, Major Harry Gem and his friend J B Perera were developing the game they had called pelota, then "lawn rackets". In 1872, they formed the Leamington Lawn Tennis Club, later publishing the Rules of Tennis.
Latest in Sport
Jay Hart sex tape: Non-league footballer sacked after being filmed having sex with unknown blonde girl in manager's dug-out
Floyd Mayweather vs Manny Pacquiao: What time does it start and where can I watch it?
Radamel Falcao to Liverpool: Agent of Manchester United striker 'makes contact' with Anfield
Cesc Fabregas in Premier League title dig at Arsenal after pointing out '27 year wait'
Manchester United 2015/16 kit leak: Orange and black strip likened to former Chelsea jersey emerges online
- 1 Rarest Beanie Baby bought for just £10 at car boot sale could be sold for £62,500 on eBay
- 5 Cancel Sky at your peril: man spends 96 minutes in chat but fails to get rid of service
If I’m being racially abused I don’t need a stranger with a saviour complex to rescue me
The only black face in the Ukip manifesto is on the page about overseas aid
Ukip is the only main political party to not address LGBT rights in its manifesto
Food banks: One million Britons will soon be using them, according to Trussell Trust
Religion isn't growing, it is becoming vigorous in its demise, says philosopher AC Grayling
BBC election debate: The one photo that summed up the whole 90-minute leaders debate
£18000 - £20000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: HR Assistant - Immediate ...
£28000 - £32000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading manufacturer of fl...
£12000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Field Sales Operative is requ...
£14000 - £18000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An Office Administrator is requ...