Tennis is a racket sport that can be played individually against a single opponent or between two teams of two players each. Each player uses a tennis racket that is strung with cord to strike a hollow rubber ball covered with felt over or around a net and into the opponent’s court.
For women and men, the standard game length is four sets. Matches are best of three sets, with one game lasting 15 minutes, as opposed to best of five sets for both men and women. in doubles, the match is best of five sets.; in doubles, the match is best of five sets.
Many of the earliest recorded matches are found in the early sections of William Harrison’s 1873 work Tennis, a Game played with a Hanged Racket, and several early reference books, such as Harry Blackmore Crease’s 1882 Forehand and Backhand, include the length and scoring of tennis matches, including a description of the 6-point scoring system that was developed in the 1860s to increase the number of games. Games start at five points in this scoring system, then go up by a point per game until the score reaches 10 points. On an indoor or outdoor court with several service lines, games are also played, and the player whose ball bounces the farthest off the floor wins the point. The exception is a service that fails to hit the line and is instead forced out by the opponent, with no score effect.
In most parts of the world, tennis is popular, especially in Europe, North America, Australia and New Zealand. The first undisputed international men’s championships were held in 1877 and the first in 1882 for women, with the first championship in the United States not until 1886.
The earliest recorded game of tennis occurred in 1549 when Lord Willoughby, governor of the Isle of Wight, challenged the local weaver Jack Barnes, an amateur player, to a contest of tennis. Lord Willoughby won by 22–19. A re-enactment of this event was performed at Eltham Palace in the 1990s.
Edmund Halley, a member of the British Government, introduced the game to Oxford in the 17th century, where he became friends with the Countess of Abergavenny, Lady Margaret Beaufort. He married her daughter Elizabeth.