A Sport for the Ages

Stumble upon any country club, high school, or recreation league, and you will likely witness at least a handful of athletes engaged in a lively match of tennis. Popular around the world, tennis is a sport immersed in tradition and history. In this biweekly edition of The StickerTalk, we have concocted a compilation of the most pertinent and peculiar components of tennis’s extensive history.

A Perilous Pastime: Tennis contributed to the untimely demise of King James I of Scotland. When attempting to outwit intruding assassins, the royal Scot’s escape through the drainage system was thwarted by a sealed sewer drain opening located in his favorite tennis court; the king had recently ordered that the sewer drain be secured due to the copious quantities of tennis balls lost to the drain’s ravenous mouth.

Humble Origins: Many historians believe that the ancient sport of badminton played an integral role in the development of tennis. Early tennis players used the palms of their hands as racquets; this primitive version of tennis was fittingly named “game of the palm.” Racquets appeared on tennis courts in the 1500s. The sport continued to evolve, eventually being renamed “lawn tennis” by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield of England, a tennis enthusiast responsible for penning the first set of governing rules in 1873. Following the codification of the game, tennis exploded in population, spreading across the globe and perpetuating into modern times.

An Unpredictable Event: The average tennis game requires approximately two and a half hours. However, the longest recorded tennis match spanned eleven hours and five minutes while the shortest lasted only thirty-four minutes.

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