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History of Tennis - Traditional Sport Enjoyed by Everyone
Tennis the game is rich with tradition all along its history. In addition, for those who are passionate about it, two main events stand out in its illustrious past. The first is the invention of vulcanized rubber. This one invention catapulted tennis to the forefront of popular sports. Moreover, the second invention was the match between Billie Jean King, the female tennis celebrity, and Bobby Riggs, the male star. Jean King's shock victory over Riggs changed the face of female tennis forever.
Before vulcanized rubber, tennis was played on indoor courts. Christian Fremantle mentions how players would use the angled walls of the tennis court to ricochet the ball to their opponents. Balls used to be made of wool wads, hair, wool, leather-wrapped cork, or even string and cloth. When Charles Goodyear invented vulcanized rubber, to be first deployed for making tires, people saw in it the perfect material for tennis balls. Rubber balls can bounce off the ground as easily as they do off the walls, which meant that the game could be enjoyed in fresh air and sunshine too, and not be restricted to the damp indoors with little light.
Therefore, it was that vulcanized rubber brought tennis to the outdoors in the 1850s, when it came to be known as "lawn tennis". Rules were rewritten to adjust for the new speed and the new style that came with it. The upper class took to the sport immediately, as it gave young, courting couples to enjoy a real sport without causing any distress to anybody. Walter Clopton Wingfield, who is looked upon as the father of modern tennis, formally patented the game in 1874. This is disputed, though, because of reports that other people introduced the game to the masses. Whatever may be the truth, Wingfield's name is etched in history. Tennis became a hit with the masses in the years that followed, with Tennis clubs and championship tournaments. The first championship matches were held in 1877 at Wimbledon, as Christian Fremantle notes.
Billie Jean King v/s Bobby Riggs
Christian Fremantle writes about the shock victory of Billie Jean King over Bobby Riggs on May 13, 1973 tennis changed women tennis. Up until then, women's tennis never fetched financial returns to its players the way men enjoyed. Jean King's victory suddenly gave women tennis a new respectability, and decent purses soon followed.
Rules of the game have been modified to keep pace with the times. The game continues to be a hot favorite for sports lovers of all ages.