A history of tennis betting

The precise origins of modern-day tennis have been widely disputed but it is commonly believed that its early predecessor, a handball game called Jeu de Paume, was primarily played in Italian courtyards by monks and later spread to France. The game was initially played by hand but evolved to include a leather glove and subsequently a crude racquet which could effectively be utilised for serving and hitting the ball.

The game became increasingly popular amongst the aristocracy and Real Tennis as it was then termed reached its peak in the 16th century when equipment and rules became unified. The French nobility were particularly enamoured with the game and between the 16th and 18th centuries the game of Jeu de Paume was highly regarded by royalty. As with all sport, betting eventually became part and parcel of the sport’s history with tennis betting becoming common practice throughout the ages.

The king of France, Francis I, was a keen Real Tennis enthusiast and promoted the game across a wide demographic. He also commissioned numerous Tennis courts during his reign of 1515-47.

In response to the French king’s enterprise, King Henry VIII (1509-47) of England commissioned the building of a court at the Royal Palace of Hampton Court which incidentally hosts tennis tournaments up to this day.

The origins of the name can be tracked back to French players who would initiate the palm game by shouting “Tenez” which was appropriated throughout the world to become the popular name for the game. Furthermore, the term love can be attributed to the French word for egg, "l'oeuf" symbolising ‘nothing’ or a zero.

The game of Real Tennis enjoyed wide appeal throughout the 17th and 18th century, but interest dwindled significantly after the European royal families were besieged during the French Revolution.

Interest was reignited by the introduction of lawn tennis, which is widely credited to Major Charles Wingfield, the Englishman patented the equipment and rules for the game in 1874.

Lawn Tennis was refined by the All England Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club and subsequently staged the first tournament in 1877 on the Wimbledon lawns. 

During this time the four Grand Slam events were established namely, Wimbledon in 1877, the U.S. Open in 1881, the French Open held at Roland Garros since 1891 and the Australian Open in 1905.

The four Grand Slam events attract elite players and have become paramount, while the Davis Cup established in 1900 is described by the organisers as the “World Cup of Tennis” and has gained widespread popularity as a team competition.  

As a result of the Open era, professional players formed the Association of Tennis Players (ATP) in 1972 and the Women's Tennis Association (WTA) a year later in 1973.

Professional tennis players are primarily judged against their Grand Slam performances as they require more mental and physical prowess, especially in the men’s category which features five sets instead of three.

Both the ATP and WTA tours travel across the globe and run throughout the majority of the year allowing players to earn ranking points based on their performances with the points system used to determine who the best tennis players in the world are at any given time.

As tennis grew to become one of the top five sports with over a billion fans, so too did the amount of tennis bets. With the advent of the internet, online tennis betting grew exponentially with a massive amount of tennis matches available at any given time.

Online tennis betting offers punters a staggering amount of betting options ranging from outright winner bets to correct score bets per set, on top of that punters can also bet on total games as well as set betting and much more.

Live in-play or in-running betting has also enjoyed widespread popularity as it allows bettors to place wagers while a particular tennis match is being played live. This affords the punter the opportunity of making an informed bet based on the player’s performance and current score.

Sunbet, South Africa’s top sportsbook offers betting on a phenomenal amount of ATP and WTA events, not forgetting the ever popular Grand Slam events. On top of that Sunbet Sports Betting also offers live in-play betting and also boast a dedicated stats page where punters can access all the relevant tennis stats they could possibly require.