Tuesday, 28 May 2024

Real Tennis

Real tennis, also known as court tennis or royal tennis, is the original sport from which modern tennis originated. It has a rich history that can be traced back to the game of Jeu de Paume, which was played without rackets and only with the hand. Real tennis has influences from various sports like basque pelota, fistball, fives, Frisian handball, longue paume, and valencian pilota.

The Origins of Real Tennis

Real tennis, or Jeu de paume as it is called in France, has its roots deeply embedded in history. In the early 1900s, as modern lawn tennis began to emerge, the sport was referred to as real tennis to distinguish it from the new form. Today, most players of the sport still refer to it as real tennis and use the term lawn tennis for the modern version.

The Unique Characteristics of Real Tennis

Real tennis is played on an indoor court with asymmetric dimensions. There are approximately 40 surviving courts in the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States, and France. Unlike modern tennis, a real tennis court is enclosed by walls on all sides, giving it a distinctive atmosphere.

The rules of real tennis are similar to those of lawn tennis but are more complex. In real tennis, a set is won by achieving six games without the need for a two-game buffer, as is required in lawn tennis. Some competitions even play up to nine games per set. Matches are usually best of three sets.

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Real Tennis and the Olympics

In the 1908 Summer Olympics, Jeu de paume was included as a medal sport. It is believed that rackets were used in the event, which resembled the real tennis we know today.

Alternate Names and Variations

Real tennis is known by different names in different regions. In the United States, it is called court tennis, while in England and Australia, it is referred to as royal tennis. In France, as mentioned earlier, it is called Jeu de paume.

Similar Sports

There are other sports that have similarities to real tennis:

  • Longue Paume: This is an outdoor version of Jeu de paume, played without a net.
  • Tennis (Lawn): Lawn tennis is a court sport that uses a stringed racket to hit a ball over a net.
  • Jeu de Paume: This is the precursor to real tennis and modern lawn tennis, originally played with the hand. It is now essentially extinct.


Q: How is real tennis different from modern tennis?
A: Real tennis is played on an indoor court with asymmetric dimensions and enclosed by walls. It has more complex rules, such as winning a set with six games without a two-game buffer. Modern tennis is played on outdoor courts with standardized dimensions and has simpler rules.

Q: How many surviving real tennis courts are there?
A: There are approximately 40 surviving real tennis courts in the United Kingdom, Australia, the United States, and France.

Q: Was real tennis ever included in the Olympics?
A: Yes, Jeu de paume, which closely resembles real tennis, was a medal sport in the 1908 Summer Olympics.

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Real tennis is a fascinating sport with a rich history. It is the original form of tennis from which modern tennis evolved. With its unique characteristics and complex rules, real tennis offers a distinct experience for players and enthusiasts. To learn more about real tennis and its current landscape, visit Auralpressure.