The most widely accepted origins of tennis date back to 12th century France when the first courts appeared in the courtyards of castles and monasteries (thus the term “tennis court”). Originally known as jeu de paume (the game of the palm) because players hit a ball with their bare hands, a glove was eventually used for protection before being replaced by the first rackets by the 1500s.
Lawn tennis, the form of the sport we know today, emerged in England during the Victorian era when the wealthy began playing on outdoor courts at country estates. It eventually surpassed croquet in popularity and in 1875 the All England Croquet Club decided to offer tennis as well. Two years later the club’s name was changed to the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club and it hosted the first organized lawn tennis tournament – the Wimbledon Championship.
Tennis was contested at the first modern Olympic Games in 1896 and was included on the Olympic program through Paris 1924 before being discontinued. After tennis demonstration events were held at Mexico City 1968 and Los Angeles 1984, the sport was officially reinstated to full medal status at Seoul 1988. Tennis has been included at every Pan American Games since the inaugural edition in 1951, with the exception of 1971.
Tennis was one of the first Olympic sports to include women, who competed at Paris 1900. The mixed doubles event returned to the Olympic program at London 2012 after an 88 year absence. Beginning at Sydney 2000, agreements were made with the ATP and WTA for players to earn ranking points at the Olympic Games.