Tennis has a short history, and its invention can be dated. In December 1873, Major Walter Clopton Wingfield devised the game for the amusement of his guests at a garden party on his estate at Nantclwyd, Wales. He based the game on the older sport of indoor tennis or real tennis ('royal tennis'), which had been invented in 12th century France and played by French aristocrats down to the time of the French Revolution.
Seeing the commercial potential of the game, Wingfield patented it in 1874, but never succeeded in enforcing his patent. Tennis spread rapidly among the leisured classes in Britain and the United States. It was first played in the U.S. at the home of Mary Ewing Outerbridge on Staten Island, New York in 1874.
In 1881 the desire to play tennis competitively led to the establishment of tennis clubs. The first championships at Wimbledon, in London were played in 1877. In 1881 the United States National Lawn Tennis Association (now the United States Tennis Association) was formed to standardise the rules and organise competitions. The U.S. National Men's Singles Championship, now the U.S. Open, was first held in 1881 at Newport, Rhode Island. the U.S. National Women's Singles Championships were first held in 1887. The Davis Cup, an annual competition between national teams, dates to 1900.
In 1926 a group of American tennis players established a professional tennis circuit, playing exhibition matches to paying audiences. For 40 years professional and amateur tennis remained strictly separate. Once a player turned pro he or she could not compete in the major (amateur) tournaments. In 1968 however, commercial pressures led to the abandonment of this distinction, inaugurating the Open era, in which all players could compete in all tournaments, and top players made their living from tennis.
Tennis was for many years predominantly a sport of the English-speaking world, dominated by the United States, Britain and Australia. It was also popular in France, where the French Open dates to 1891. Thus Wimbledon, the U.S. Open, the French Open and the Australian Open (dating to 1905) became and have remained the most prestigious events in tennis. Together these four events are called the Grand Slam (a term borrowed from bridge). Winning the Grand Slam, by capturing these four titles in one calendar year, is the highest ambition of most tennis players.
With the beginning of the Open era, the establishment of an international professional tennis circuit, and revenues from the sale of television rights, tennis has spread all over the world and has lost its upper-class English-speaking image. Since the 1970s great champions have emerged from Germany (Boris Becker, Steffi Graf), the former Czechoslovakia (Ivan Lendl and Martina Navratilova), Sweden (Bj?Borg), Brazil (Gustavo Kuerten), Russia (Yevgeni Kafelnikov), and many other countries. Recently African American players such as Venus and Serena Williams have become a force in the game.
Among the greatest male players of the Open era are Rod Laver, Jimmy Connors, John Newcombe, Stan Smith, Bj?Borg, John McEnroe, Ivan Lendl, Stefan Edberg, Jim Courier, Mats Wilander, Andre Agassi, Pete Sampras, and Roger Federer. Among the women are Chris Evert, Martina Navratilova, Steffi Graf, Monica Seles, Serena and Venus Williams , and Martina Hingis.
Many great players played in the days before Open tennis. Most of them are unknown by modern sports fans. Among them are Bill Tilden, Ellsworth Vines, Fred Perry, Don Budge, Bobby Riggs, Jack Kramer, Pancho Segura, Frank Sedgman, Pancho Gonzales, Ken Rosewall, and Lew Hoad. For many years observers considered Tilden to be the greatest player who ever lived. In the 1950s and 1960s, there was general agreement that Gonzales had replaced Tilden as the best ever. Any one of these eleven would be competitive in today's game. Other fine players of the pre-Open era include Maurice McLoughlin, 'Little Bill' Johnston, the 'Four Musketeers' (Jean Borotra, Jacques Brugnon, Henri Cochet, and Ren頌acoste), Vinnie Richards, Jack Crawford, Vic Seixas, and Tony Trabert.
The Davis Cup is the international team event in men's tennis. The largest annual team competition in sport, the Davis Cup is run by the International Tennis Federation and is contested between teams of players from the competing countries in a knock-out format. The women's equivalent of the Davis Cup is the Fed Cup (known as the Federation Cup before 1995).
Each round consists of 5 matches (known as a rubber or a tie) between two countries. The first two matches are singles, the third is a doubles match, and in the last two matches (the reverse singles) the first contestants play again, but swap opponents from the earlier matches. There is no restriction on who may play the doubles match: the two singles players, two other players (usually doubles specialists) or a combination. If one team has already clinched the rubber, either team may change the players it uses in the reverse singles, with the only restrictions being that the players involved be on the original team roster and the matchups from the first singles matches cannot be repeated.
All rubbers are normally best-of-5 sets. If a team has clinched the rubber before all 5 matches are played, any remaining reverse singles matches are shortened to best-of-3 sets.
The tournament was conceived in 1899 by four members of the Harvard University tennis team who came up with the idea of challenging the British to a tennis showdown. Once the idea received the go ahead from the respective lawn tennis associations, one of the four Harvard players, Dwight Filley Davis, designed a tournament format and spent the money from his own pocket to purchase an appropriate sterling silver trophy.
The first match, between the United States and Great Britain was held in Brookline, Massachusetts in 1900. The American team, of which Dwight Davis was a part, surprised the British by winning the first three matches. The following year the two countries did not compete but the US won the next match in 1902. By 1905 the tournament expanded to include Belgium, Austria, France, and Australasia, a combined team from Australia and New Zealand that competed together until 1924.
These tournaments were only officially called the Davis Cup following the death of Dwight Davis in 1945. From 1950 to 1967, Australia dominated the competition, winning the Cup 15 times in 18 years. Since inception, the U.S.A. has won the event the most times (31), followed by Australia (23), France and Great Britain (9 each), Sweden (7), and Australasia (5).
Davis Cup 戴维斯杯网球赛是每年一度的世界男子网球团体赛，也是世界网坛层次最高，影响最大的国际性团体赛，由国际网球联合会主办，是除奥林匹克网球比赛外历史最长的网球比赛。因系美国人戴维斯倡议举办，并捐赠银质奖杯授于冠军队，故名'戴维斯杯网球锦标赛'。第1届于1900年在美国波士顿举办，仅美国和英国参加，戴维斯本人是美国队的队长又兼运动员，并在当年的比赛中带领美国队以3：0战胜英国队捧走奖杯。由于参加国家的增多，1923年起分为美洲区和欧洲区，两个区先进行分区预赛，然后再决赛。1981年开始采取分为两级的升降级比赛的办法。1952年由于参赛队的增加，除原美洲区和欧洲区外，又增加了一个东方区，分3个区先进行预赛，然后产生次冠军队，再向上届冠军队挑战。1966年欧洲参赛队剧增，又从3个区分成4个区，即美洲区，东方区，欧洲A区，欧洲B区（非洲国家参加欧洲B区）。1970年成立了一个委员会研究讨论竞赛规则的改革，较多国家认为卫冕国家以逸待劳，迎战疲惫不堪的挑战队，未免太有失公允，所以自1971年通过了一项决议取消了'挑战赛'制度，从1972年起冠军队也毫无例外地必须从第一轮开始比赛，至于决赛地点的选择，由抽签决定。这想变革从此再也不会出现象美国和澳大利亚那样，年复一年的垄断这桂冠的局面。