The Original Rules of Tennis

Edited by The Bodleian Library

The Original Rules of Tennis

Edited by The Bodleian Library

Distributed for Bodleian Library, University of Oxford

Introduction by John Barrett and a Foreword by Tim Henman

59 pages | 30 halftones | 4 x 6 1/8 | © 2010
Cloth $12.00 ISBN: 9781851243181 Published June 2010 For sale in North America only

The pristine grass and white uniforms of Wimbledon and the aggressive hard courts of the U.S. Open have inspired tens of thousands of amateur tennis players in North America. Millions of people watch the tournaments each year on television and the stars of recent decades are household names, but relatively few people know the history of the game. In the Middle Ages and the Renaissance it was a “jeu de paume,” a game played at French and English royal courts with hands rather than rackets.  The modern game, however, dates from 1874, when Major Walter Clopton Wingfield developed a variation on the game for the amusement of his house guests in Wales. After he laid out the basic rules, the game spread quickly—the first championship at Wimbledon was held in 1877, followed soon after by the first American tournament in 1880.

Published in association with the All England Lawn Tennis Club—better known as Wimbledon—this attractive, collectible book examines the history of the rules of tennis from their first codification to the present day. Included is a fascinating introduction by John Barrett, the BBC’s now retired “voice of tennis” who played in twenty-one consecutive Wimbledon Championships, that looks at the circumstances of the composition of the first rules, their scope, and evolution. The Original Rules of Tennis is a must for spectators and players alike.


The Major’s Game of Lawn Tennis, in 1874

Rules of Lawn-Tennis, Adopted by the M.C.C. and the A.E.C. & L.T.C., 1878

Appendix: Court Plans and Dimensions
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