The history of tennis goes all the way back to ancient Egypt and Persia where pictures indicate a type of game in which a ball was stroked1) over a net was played. The history of modern tennis officially began in 19th century Britain with a man named Major Walter Wingfield.
所幸的是，这项运动延续了下来，但这个名称却没有。1874年，温菲尔德要这项运动申请专利，当时他选定的名字为 “sphairistike”。这个词来自希腊语，意思是 “球类游戏”。温菲尔德的“发明”灵感主要来源于13世纪法国的一种游戏，名叫“jeu de paume”，字面意思为“手掌游戏”。这一游戏在室内进行，游戏时，人们徒手将球击打过网。这项休闲运动颇受修道院的僧侣们的喜爱。
后来，“jeu de paume”逐渐演变为室内网球或皇家网球运动，得到了法国皇室的青睐。16世纪初期，法国国王弗朗西斯一世甚至在他的个人战舰上建造了一个皇家网球场。
What a Name for a Game
“Hey, how about a game of sphairistike?”
Fortunately the game survived but the name did not. Major Wingfield chose sphairistike, a Greek word meaning “ball game,” for the game he sought to patent in 1874. Much of Wingfield’s “invention” was based on a game played in 13th Century France called jeu de paume—literally “game of the palm.” This game was played indoors by hitting a ball over a net with a bare hand. The game was a popular recreation among monks in their monasteries.
Jeu de Paume evolved into a game called real tennis or royal tennis that became popular among French royalty. In the early 1500s, the French monarch, Francis I even had a royal tennis court built on his personal battleship.
“网球”这个名称显然也与“jeu de paume”颇有渊源。法国人在击球前会喊“Tenetz!”(编者注：该词与网球的英文写法“tennis”十分相近)，意思是“小心！”
By the time Major Wingfield introduced his friends to sphairistike at a Christmas party, there is evidence that similar games were already being played in England. Major T.H. Gem of Britain and J.B. Perera of Spain had marked out a tennis court on a lawn as early as 1858. But they were not the one’s who wrote down what they had done and sought a patent, so today it is Wingfield who is considered the father of the game.