Tennis courts weren’t always rectangular shaped from the beginning. There were a few major changes that occurred during the evolution of the dimensions of tennis courts.
THE “REAL” TENNIS
Before lawn tennis, it was “real” tennis which was the original version of the game. It comprised of complex rules and odd techniques which were used by the players. Even today, the world championships of real tennis take place but they are not quite known. The basic rules of this game were laid way back in 1592. Just like the rules, the courts of real tennis were intricate in structure. The salient features of this court include:
– No “ideal” dimension of the court
– Court covered by four walls
– Three of the four walls have roofs on them. These are called “penthouses.”
– Below every penthouse, there are “galleries” from where the spectators can see the match.
– A tall ceiling where one can easily play lob shots.
– A sagged net in the middle. Around five feet high at the ends and three feet in the center.
– Approximate dimension: 110 x 39 feet above the penthouses & 96 x 32 feet on the playing floor.
– The two ends of the courts are asymmetric. They are also different on right and left ends.
A very few courts of real tennis are in existence today. The only court in Paris, that is still in use was made in 1908. Its unique architecture involves the fabrication of ceiling made up of iron and glass. The court is one of the highest tennis courts of real tennis and is around 35 feet tall.
Tracing further backwards in the timeline is England’s Hampton Court. It was made in 1625 and is one of the few original courts of real tennis that is still active today.
In 1874, Major Walter C. Wingfield came up with the idea of tennis that we are all familiar with today. He laid down the simplified rules of “lawn” tennis. Players and the general public did not readily accept the rules and the concept of lawn tennis; especially the court. The initial courts of lawn tennis were constructed in the United States. These courts were in the shape of an hourglass. They were much smaller compared to the current courts. Wider at the baseline and narrower towards the net. Two or four players played on the court which had a net that varied from 5 feet to 7 feet in height. The rules and the court dimensions were later changed and allowed to undergo developments after the allowance of Wingfield. He is still known as the “Father of Modern Tennis.”
AEC COMMITTEE’S COURT
The All England Club held the first Wimbledon tournament in 1877. It came up with the idea of a rectangular shaped tennis court. The rules were almost the same as we know them today. The service boxes were 26 feet in length and the height of the net was still 5 feet high.
THE MODERN COURT
The dimensions of the modern tennis court were established in 1882. These are the dimensions of the court that we all are familiar with today.
– Court: 78 feet length, 36 feet wide for doubles and 27 feet wide for singles
– Alley: 39 feet long
– Service box: 21 feet long
– Net: 3 feet 6 inches at the posts. 3 feet at the center
– Symmetric opposite ends