Big Tennis Is Like Big Business


The Museum of the All England Lawn Tennis and Croquet Club (AELTC) has a stand dedicated to Major Walter Wingfield, who invented and in 1874 published the rules of the game, which he named “Sphairistike” or “lawn tennis” (before that, tennis was played in specially equipped rooms by the rules, similar to the rules of modern squash).

Three years after the invention of Major Wingfield, the first Wimbledon tournament took place on the grass courts of AELTC hosting 22 participants, supported by a couple of hundred spectators from among friends and acquaintances.

In a short time, the new game spread all over the world. As early as in 1881 Newport (Rhode Island) housed a tournament called “The US National Championship among men”, in 10 years the French played their championship in Paris, in 1892 the Germans played in Hamburg, and finally, in 1905, the Australians determined their champions for the first time in Melbourne.

The creation of the International Tennis Federation (ITF) on March 1, 1913 became a logical byproduct of this expansion. By the way, in September 2015, the president of the Tennis Federation of Kazakhstan Bulat Utemuratov was elected a member of the ITF board of directors for a 4-year term.

Four “majors” – the Australian Open, French Open, US Open plus the Wimbledon tournament, historically forming the so-called Grand Slam – traditionally stand apart in a tennis season calendar for both men and women. In leap years, the Olympic tennis tournament is added to them, held in the framework of the Summer Olympic Games.

This also includes informal world championships among national teams – the Davis Cup for men, dating back to 1900, and the Fed Cup for women.

For a long time tennis was officially considered an amateur sport, although prize money was awarded from the very beginning. However, since the 1920s sports promoters began to arrange commercial matches, and then tournaments with the participation of the best players, who turned into professionals. This divide lasted for more than forty years, until in 1968 the so-called Open Era started.

From that moment on, tournaments are open to all tennis players and combined into several large series (“tours”) managed by international organizations – the above-mentioned ITF, the Association of Tennis Professionals (ATP) and the Women’s Tennis Association (WTA). Traditionally, the calendar year is crowned by the final tournaments of the year – Nitto ATP Finals and BNP Paribas WTA Finals Singapore, followed by the final matches of the Davis Cup and the Fed Cup.


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