The History of Tennis
by Nancy Koran
“Few scholars of the cultural world would deny that France occupies a position of international prowess, when measured by its contributions to the world of fashion, food, wine and overall elegance. It is commonplace to hear French colloquial phrases repeated throughout the global community in our everyday speech, or to find them in our English journals. Therefore, one can readily appreciate the influence of the French in the world of tennis.
We all know there are a plethora of sports where humankind has been seen batting a ball around with the hand, paddle or racquet. Some might even argue that the origins of tennis date back to ancient times — quite possibly to the Paleolithic age — when rocks were hit back and forth with a club.
Studies of Greek and Roman literature reveal evidence of a sport played with ball and paddle. One theory holds that the Greeks acquired the game from the Persians or Egyptians as far back as the 5th century B.C., and that it found its way to France as a result of the Saracen invasion. In similar accounts, the Persians played a game in the 4th century A.D. called “tchigan” which resembled “chicane”, an ancient sport in Languedoc, France.However, it is a sport which originated in 13th-century France that appears to be the true precursor of the game we know as tennis today. This game came into being in the monastery courtyards of France. As the Middle Ages drew to a close in Europe, the monastic pastime evolved into a form known as “real” or “royal” tennis, adopted enthusiastically by royalty and their court — who dubbed the new sport jeu de paume, meaning “the game of the palm.” ”
Source: The History of Tennis, Part 1