Tennis is definitely popular nowadays. Even if many do know how the game is played and constantly watch it on TV only some know how everything started. Contrary to what you might believe, a form of tennis existed even in the Medieval ages. Real tennis is what we now refer to it. Everything started thanks to France and one ball game that was particularly popular there in the 12th century. At that point in time the ball was hit with bear hands. When we reached the 16th century we saw the introduction of a racquet. Rules were also developed then. The royalty started to enjoy real tennis a lot.
Even if few are aware of this, you might find it interesting that 1571 was the year when we saw a tennis tour being held for the first time. It was held due to the wishes of King Charles IX. 3 mastering levels appeared for players: apprentice, associate and master. In 1599 we saw the poublishing of the first tennis rules book. While in France the game was really popular, in England the popularity began with the reign of Henry VII. One tennis court was built and by the time that James I was ruling we saw London having 14 courts.
By the 17th century this game was really popular in France, Spain, the Austro-Hungarian Empire and Italy, being played mostly by noblemen. English Puritanism did put a stop to development seen in England. Unfortunately, during the time of Napoleon real tennis started to be abandoned. During the 18th and then the 19th centuries we saw good news offered from England. That was when 3 new sports based on real tennis appeared: racquets, lawn tennis and squash racquets. Lawn tennis basically ended up becoming tennis, the game we look at today. Tennis history could not have existed without France and England and their nobility ranks.