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Game, set and match

7 June 2023

The lawn tennis season starts this month and while we’re waiting for the umpire to take to the chair, the line judges to get into position and the players to get warmed up, here’s a short history of the game.

The origins of tennis can be traced to a 12th–13th-century French handball game called jeu de paume (“game of the palm”). In the 16th century rackets came into use and the game was renamed real tennis. Henry VIII of England was a big fan and the court he played on at Hampton Court is still in use today.  

Real tennis declined during the 18th and early 19th centuries and, in its place, three other racquet sports emerged: racquets, squash racquets and lawn tennis. Between 1859 and 1865, Major Harry Gem, a Birmingham based solicitor, combined elements of the game of racquets and played it on a croquet lawn in Edgbaston. In 1872, he moved to Leamington Spa and in 1874, with two doctors from the Warneford Hospital, founded the world’s first tennis club, the Leamington Tennis Club.

As tennis grew in popularity, the All England Croquet Club set aside one of its lawns at Wimbledon for tennis. The game quickly proved popular and the club changed its name to the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club. In 1877, the club held its first tennis championship and twenty-two entries were received. Tennis continues to remain popular today and, on average, ranks among the top five played sports as well as one of the world’s most watched sports.  

While the Wimbledon Championships starts at the beginning of July, the grass-court season is ready to serve a host of tournaments during June. From 12-18 June, The Nottingham Open, features some of the top female and male players. This is followed by the all female tournament, The Birmingham Classic, and The Queen’s Club Championships which attracts some of the world’s best male players. The Birmingham Classic and The Queen’s Club Championships both take place from 19-25 June. All of the tournaments will be available to watch on the BBC.

If cricket or Formula One is your preferred sport, the BBC will be showing highlights of the Ashes First Test from 16-20 June as well as the ICC World Test Championships from 7-11 June. If Formula One is your passion, Channel 4 will show highlights of the Canadian Grand Prix qualifying on 17 June and the race on 18 June.

Whether your passion is tennis, cricket or Formula One, don’t let TV interference spoil your viewing.  If you have noticed new TV interference (we promise, it’s not Hawkeye) – there’s a small chance it may be due to new mobile signals. We’re here to help – contact us on 0808 13 13 800 (free from UK landlines and mobiles).

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