A History of Tennis, from Victorian Pastime to Global Phenomenon
No one is better equipped to tell this story than novelist and historian Elizabeth Wilson. With a penchant for tennis’s inherent drama, she finds its core: a psychological face off between flamboyant personalities navigating the ebbs and flows of fortune in the confines of a 78 x 36–foot box—whether of clay, grass, or DecoTurf. Walking the finely kempt lawns of Victorian England, she shows how tennis’s early role as a social pastime that included both men and women—and thus, lots of sexual tension—set it apart from most other sports and their dominant masculine appeal. Even today, when power and endurance are more important than ever, tennis still demands that the body behave gracefully and with finesse. In this way, Wilson shows, tennis has retained the vibrant spectacle of human drama and beauty that have always made it special, not just to sports fans but to popular culture.
Telling the stories of all the greats, from the Renshaw brothers to Novak Djokovic, and of all the advances, from wooden racquets to network television schedules, Wilson offers a tennis book like no other, keeping the court square in our sights as history is illuminated around it.