Major Walter Clopton Wingfield invented land tennis in 1873, which later became the "tennis" we know today.
(For more info, go to the related link below.)
Some believe that the game started with the ancient Greeks, Romans and Egyptians, but actual documentation shows that it really began around the 11th or 12th century, by French Monks, but it was played with hands instead of raquets. Somewhere around 1500, a wooden raquet strung with sheep gut was invented. Then from 1650 to 1750, tennis popularity waned a bit, until Goodyear invented a vulcanized ball similar to that used today.
In 1874, Major Walter C. Wingfield patented in London the equipment and rules for a game very similar to modern tennis.
As with many sports, the original source may never be definitively proved.
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