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How to play tennis

The direct predecessor of modern tennis is considered to be indoor play, which until the end of the 19th century had the same name, and is now known as real tennis, court tennis or jeu de pom (fr. Jeu de paume palm play) Jeu de pom, in which up to 12 (!) People could play simultaneously, appeared in the 11th century, apparently in monasteries. At first, in this game, as well as in manual pelot, the ball was hit with a hand, then gloves, bats and, finally, in the XVI century, rackets and net appeared. At the same time, the peak of popularity of jeo de pomme, in which the French, English and Spanish kings played at that time, fell.

One of the most famous references to tennis in medieval literature is the episode in Shakespeare’s historical chronicle “Henry V”, where the French Dauphin mockingly sends a barrel of tennis balls to the young English king.

In the XVI century, almost all French kings played tennis: the tennis hall was equipped on the royal yacht of Francis I, Henry II ordered the construction of a tennis hall in the Louvre, and Charles IX in 1571, granting Paris tennis players and masters who made racquets the right to guild, called tennis "one of the most noble, worthy and healthy exercises that princes, peers and other noble people can do."

However, for most of its history, tennis has remained the game of the elect. The small number of participants in the match and the limited space for spectators did not allow him to become truly popular entertainment, and after a hundred years, even in Paris, there were only ten tennis halls, all in poor condition. Tennis halls began to be adapted for other needs, including for the performance of theater troupes, and, according to the Oxford Illustrated Theater Encyclopedia, this predetermined the form of future theater halls.

In 1874, Major Walter Clopton of Wingfield (England) developed the rules for a new game that is essentially close to modern tennis, which he called "spherical science." After a year, the spherical rules were improved, and the game received a new name - “Lawn Tennis”, which means “tennis on the lawn” in English.

In 1899, four students at Harvard University came up with the idea of ​​holding a tennis tournament in which national teams participate. One of them, Dwight Davis, developed a tournament scheme and bought a prize for the winner with his own money - a silver cup. The first tournament was held in Brooklyn (Massachusetts) in 1900, and the teams of the USA and Great Britain took part in it. Davis, along with two other Harvard students, played for the US team, which unexpectedly won, then won the next match in 1902. Since then, the tournament has been held every year (with some exceptions), and after the death of Davis in 1945, it was called the Davis Cup and is now a popular annual event in the world of tennis.

In 1923, one of the leading tennis players in the world, Hazel Hotchkiss-Whiteman, in order to popularize women's tennis, established the Whiteman Cup, but this competition, being held for the first time between the women's teams of the USA and Great Britain, remained the internal affair of these two teams throughout their existence until 1990, when the British side announced the termination of participation in the tournament. Only in 1963, the International Lawn Tennis Federation established the Federation Cup - the women's team competition, which became the analogue of the Davis Men's Cup.

Starting in the 1920s, professional tennis players began to earn money by playing demonstration matches in front of an audience that paid for the right to watch the game. The first to sign a professional contract for speaking to the public was Susanne Lenglen, Olympic champion in Antwerp. Her tour was organized by entrepreneur Charles Pyle, who also tried to contract with other leading tennis players in the world, Helen Wills and Malloy Mallory, but did not succeed in this. Then, Mary Brown, three-time U.S. champion and captain of the national team in the Whiteman Cup, who at that time was already 35 years old, was engaged as a partner for Langlen. The amount of the Langlen contract was 75 thousand dollars, and Brown was supposed to receive 30 thousand. Pyle also contracted France’s fourth racket, Paul Feret, and an American tennis star, two-time Olympic champion and Davis Cup winner Vincent Richards, along with two other lesser-known tennis players. The first professional tennis match in history took place on October 9, 1926 in New York at the Madison Square Garden indoor arena, in the presence of 13 thousand spectators. In tennis circles, the emergence of a professional tour was received with mixed feelings, causing both support and sharp criticism.

However, Richards turned out to be not as successful a manager as Pyle, and the professional tour ceased to be profitable until in 1931 he was joined by multiple winner of the Wimbledon tournament, the US championship and Davis Cup Bill Tilden, whose confrontation with the US champion among professionals in 1929, the Czechoslovak master Karel Kozhelug again attracted the attention of the public and brought about a quarter of a million dollars per season.