The ancestor of tennis was invented in the Middle Ages by French monks who wanted a little exercise in their cloister.

The sport was called “the palm game”, and it became so popular in France that even kings played it.

The principle? Two or four players hit the ball over a net.

At first with the palm of the hand, then with a leather glove, and finally with a battledore that became the racket.

But when did the “palm game” become tennis?

Not before the English discovered this sport during the Hundred Years War.

The English called it tennis and invented the rules.

Before serving, players would warn their opponent by saying « tenez » in French, which the English mispronounced « tennis ».

Modern tennis was invented by Walter Clopton Wingfield, a magistrate, who wrote the rules in 1874.

Very quickly, tournaments were organized all over the world.  

In 1891, the first competition of what would become the French Open was held in France.

A handful of spectators attended this final, whereas today there are more than 15,000 around the center court!

France has produced some great tennis players, like the famous “Four Musketeers” or Yannick Noah. But who will be the next French champions?