Tennis Racket History – When Was Tennis Invented?

tennis racket history

The History of Tennis and its Rackets

Like all sports, tennis has progressed over the course of many years and has come a long way from its initial origins. The biggest transformation of these was the evolution of the original simple wooden rackets to the powerful, carbon-metal pieces we see today – any of which would be a powerful tool in the arsenal of any well-practiced tennis player. Athletes of this day and age are used to playing with equipment that is both sleek and efficient, but few of them ever think to step back and wonder how fascinating the history of tennis rackets actually is.

Tennis rackets have evolved primarily in terms of the material used to make them. First, they were made out of wood and this remained the standard for many years. Then the rackets were fashioned out of steel and metal-carbon. The latest rackets are made out of graphite. The shape and build of rackets have remained the same over the years but they have evolved slightly when it comes to size, material and the quality of the string. Keep reading to find out everything you need to know about the modern-day tennis racket and how it came into being.

How Were Tennis Rackets Created?

Tennis rackets came into being around the mid-18th century. Tennis was a popular sport amongst monks in France but they did not use rackets. They used their bare hands to throw the ball back and forth over the net while wearing gloves. Monks often got injured from playing with their bare hands, which is why the paddles were invented. Players then used solid wooden paddles to hit the ball and this paddle is what transformed into the racket. 

Medieval rackets were made of a large wooden frame and they had a teardrop shape with a much longer wooden handle. They had strings that were made of gut and were bound in large wooden frames. The rackets were used to hit dead balls over a net quite similar to how to squash ball is played.

Modern tennis rackets were invented centuries later and have caused great strides in tennis racket history, as they have entirely revolutionized the way tennis is played today. This is a timeline of how have tennis rackets changed over the years:

How Were Tennis Rackets Created?

Wooden Rackets

The first tennis racket ever made in 1874 was created in London by Major Walter C. Wingfield. The racket he created was heavy and made of solid wood. If it hit you, it would most likely cause severe damage, much like a cricket bat. Wooden rackets were used in the nineteenth century when tennis gained popularity and was played by the upper-middle class. Wooden rackets were created with a wider head and were relatively flexible, allowing everyone to play better on the actual field. This is when the game became increasingly popular and everyone wanted to play it. 

In tennis racket history, wooden rackets remained popular for about a hundred years until, around 1947, the laminated wooden rackets gained popularity as players such as Dunlop, Slazenger, Wilson and Spalding all adopted this specific type of racket. There wasn’t much competition in the tennis racket industry aside from only two names: Dunlop Maxply Fort and Wilson Jack Kramer.

Metal Rackets

While wooden rackets were on the rise, metal rackets faced bouts of popularity yet remained primarily unsuccessful. The metal rackets had been around since 1889 but were yet to make their mainstream debut. In the 1970s, Jimmy Connors used steel rackets to demonstrate how powerful they were in comparison to wooden ones.

The famous victory of Connors against Ken Rosewell has long been credited to the fact that a metal tennis racket was used and experts speculated that it performed much better than the wooden one during the game. Metal rackets were invented back in 1957 by René Lacoste, who created and patented the first metal tennis rackets. The Wilson racket company bought the rights to the metal racket design in 1969 when the first metal racket made its debut in the Wilson catalog, making tennis racket history. The Wilson metal racket T2000 was more powerful than any wooden racket in the market at the time as it had a head measuring 67 inches. By 1917, Wilson was selling fully composite and metal rackets in their catalogs.


Although aluminum rackets were quite popular during Connors’ era, many players grew weary and the flexibility of the rackets also posed a threat on the court.

The flexibility of the metal rackets was an issue for players and the aluminum frame had hard-hitting shots, along with a change in direction when the string plane was moved. The string ball would move in unintended directions and, worst of all, the rackets would unpredictably break off. Due to these reasons, most companies would soon discontinue metal rackets entirely. With the graphite rackets coming into the market, more and companies jumped the bandwagon and tried to weld these lighter, more flexible tennis rackets that were great for power swinging.

The most famous graphite rackets were introduced by John McEnroe and Steffi Graf in 1980. The graphite rackets were a 20th-century invention that weighed only 7 ounces.

How have tennis rackets improved?

Have you ever thought about how the tennis racket has changed over time? From a simple stick with string to a complex, engineered machine that’s capable of generating more power and accuracy.

There is enormous variety today

With the increase in speed and power of today’s rackets, it is difficult to imagine a time when they were not around. It is also hard to imagine that there was once a time where tennis players would have only one type of racket for their entire career. Today, we can choose from dozens of different types with varied shapes, sizes and weights – all designed to serve our needs as individual athletes.


The evolution from wood rackets in 1900 to graphite composite frames today is really quite amazing! One thing hasn’t changed however-the importance of technique. In order for these new, high tech rackets to do their job well they need someone who knows what he or she’s doing on the other side of the net.

As the materials change and evolve, so do the rackets. The newest racket is made of graphite and has a new stringing pattern that makes it more powerful than ever before. But what will happen when future technologies like graphene are incorporated in these tennis equipment? Time will tell.


Tennis rackets have come a long way from the days of wood and gut strings. Today, tennis players can choose between many different materials for their racket strings, such as nylon or polyester. They also get to decide if they want regular stringing patterns or even a hybrid pattern that is more topspin friendly or more durable, or has the benefits a player wants.

All in all, choosing what material your racket frame will be made out of and how you will string it up has never been more important than today.

Has tennis technology improved?

With all these changes happening so quickly, has tennis technology improved? It certainly has. Tennis technology has improved in the sense that players are able to play for longer periods of time consistently, which is due to advances in fitness and health and quality of equipment. The tennis ball has also changed since its introduction with a better grip and more bounce-off surfaces like clay courts. 

Tennis is an ever-changing sport. In the last decade, we have seen a lot of changes in how it can be played and what equipment you need to play. Some older players recall going back to playing with wooden racquets while today others are using lighter materials like graphite or titanium.

As technology has grown and evolved, tennis equipment manufacturers have been able to make a number of innovations. The latest major change in the game is that players are now benefiting from high-quality materials such as graphene which is a technological marvel.

Manufacturers like Wilson are working on developing faster racquets with less vibration, which will give players more power without sacrificing accuracy. Other companies are also making changes by creating lighter strings or stronger polyester coverings for the frames themselves. With these new advancements coming out every year it’s clear that there’s no end in sight to how far this sport can go.

I have been playing tennis for 15 years. I have seen a lot of changes in the sport over the course of those 15 years. The quality of equipment has improved tremendously, for example, there are now different types and brands of strings that can be used on your racket. There are also new technologies to help you improve your game, such as tracking devices that measure data about how fast or far you hit the ball. As someone who is passionate about tennis, I am excited to see where this technology will take our sport next!

When did the tennis racket change?

The early rackets were made from wood and didn’t have an oval shape while today’s modern graphite-made ones are more angular shaped with bigger heads.

How has the design of a tennis racket changed over time? The first change to come around was when wooden rackets were replaced by graphite. This material made it possible for players with less strength and power to hit the ball more effectively, which led to an oval shape taking over in 2000s. 

Are wooden tennis rackets still used?

Wooden tennis rackets are a thing of the past. In the 80s, they went out of fashion and Bjorn Borg used them until 1983 when he retired. Modern players find it hard to use wood because its difficult to swing with such a heavy racket in their hands. That’s why people don’t play with wooden racquets anymore today.

Tennis Racket History vs. Rackets Nowadays 

Rackets nowadays have to take into account how the material has changed. Companies have also introduced more flexibility and stability to the rackets; this has refined the sport to a great extent and improved the game in many ways.

Materials such as Kevlar are also quite common and are used in place of graphite, which is much lighter and stiffer. Titanium tennis rackets tend to be difficult to control and can hurt the players’ arms over prolonged periods.

Power rackets are created with a wide variety of materials such as titanium, hypercarbon, triple threat, mesh, etc. They usually have more flexibility with the head shape, weight and vibrating dampening.

These rackets are generally more versatile and can be used by beginners and professionals alike. There are many different types of rackets out there, with new and improved versions always coming out and becoming popular through endorsements from professionals.

When was the tennis racket invented?

The first modern tennis racket was invented by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield, who had graduated from the Royal Military College. He created this game called “sphairistiké”- a Greek phrase meaning playing at ball in 1874 and it required special rackets that are still used today on courts with his patented design of them.

Despite being around for decades, metal rackets didn’t really take off until the 1970s when they were used by tennis superstar Jimmy Connors. His successful use of a powerful steel racquet had such an effect on his opponents that wooden racket players finally found themselves overwhelmed and could no longer compete against him with wood as their only choice of playing equipment due to its superiority in terms of power delivery from point-blank.

What year did tennis rackets change?

In the world of sports, it’s often difficult to keep up with all changes in gameplay. However, when you’re talking about Tennis and what players have used throughout history – from wood bats to metal rackets- there are many different varieties that occurred overtime a period spanning decades! 

One such innovation took place back in 1967 where René Lacoste came up with his design for an aluminum bat which he patented two years prior at just 25 years old (1953). This soon led him to acquire rights on behalf of Wilson Sporting Goods Company who produced their very first batch made specifically Outten T2000s racquets around 1968.

The year was 1968. Tennis rackets have been evolving for centuries, but it’s in the late 60s where we first see a huge difference between old and new equipment- with Wilson providing one of many examples that would eventually lead to their dominance on court as well off – thanks largely due to this innovation: The T2000 67 square inch head made from graphite composite material offered incredible power at an affordable price point while also being lighter than other options out there (practice or otherwise).

Innovations like these helped make tennis more accessible by bringing down costs so everyone could play.

How did tennis originate?

It began as a medieval French diversion called jeu de paume, which was played with hands and rackets. By 16th century, it had evolved into the modern form that we know today – but there were still many changes ahead!

When did tennis rackets change from wood?

The tennis world has seen many changes over the years. Wooden rackets were popular in their day, but by 1980 they had been surpassed by graphite frames and Dunlop Max 200Gs played a big role for John McEnroe or Steffi Graf on theirs!

Did tennis originate in Russia?

No country is credited with the origins of today’s game, but many believe it comes from France. However, there are some who argue that the ancient Greeks also played a version of tennis called “rackets” which was often an activity practiced by warriors to help increase their speed and strength.

How racket technology influenced playing styles in tennis?

Rackets evolved as the styles of play did as well, and this meant graphite fiber composites were here to stay. This created a big shift in the overall approach required to compete at an elite level – with players being able to use powerful groundstrokes from the back of the court thanks largely due to their new found strength and ability to allow for longer rallies which often times ended up with a dead ball or winner.

As you know, the evolution of rackets says an influence on playing styles; with even professionals like John McEnroe making huge changes by switching to graphite rackets. Another example is Boris Becker who won Wimbledon in 1985 using a wooden racket and switched to steel rackets soon after (he won several more titles).

How changes in racket history is helping players today?

Much in the same way that players switch to a new rackets in their prime, they will often times switch styles as well if it is no longer working. This also applies to changing equipment when playing conditions change – for example clay court season versus hard court which can have huge effects on groundstrokes so this means adapting with what works best for you on the fly.

Today’s aggressive and ‘baseliney’ style owes much to the racket technology these days (including technological advancements like graphite, kevlar and titanium) – but also to the game itself which was slow to adapt until Jimmy Connors did with his serve-and-volley style.

Final Thoughts

What makes a tennis racket so valuable? And what is the history of these instruments used in this sport we love and play every day? A great deal.

The history of the tennis racket is full of innovation and improvements to the game. Today, players are using lighter rackets with thinner strings that can allow them to get more spin on their shots. With these advances in technology, it’s easy to see how the sport has evolved over time into what we know today as one of America’s favorite pastimes.

If you want a deeper understanding for how this fascinating sport came about or if you’re wondering where your own personal passion for playing comes from, spend some time browsing through our posts.

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