Tennis – A Cultural History (Second edition)
Heiner Gillmeister
University of Bonn, retired

This is the second edition of the highly acclaimed and bestselling comprehensive history of tennis which was the first truly scholarly history of any individual sport. Supported by a startling wealth of linguistic and documentary research, Gillmeister charts the global evolution of tennis from its origins in 12th century France where it emerged as a more peaceful variety of ribald football played in monasteries. By the 16th century, it had become the favourite pastime of the European aristocracy and had, in the wake of the Spanish conquistadors, even reached the Americas. The prestige of the game also led to its popularity among Renaissance poets and playwrights. After a gradual decline in the 18th and 19th centuries the medieval game revived in the 1870s in the form of lawn tennis. The new game dispensed with the expensive walled courts, discarded the complicated rules of the old game and was played in a natural setting. From England with its famous Wimbledon tournament it spread to the European continent and to the United States where the Davis Cup was born.

Gillmeister debunks several firmly established myths about the history of the game and rare colour photographs and medieval and renaissance drawings generously adorn the text. A delight for the sports fan and the scholar alike, Tennis is the authoritative text on the sport.


From the Preface to the First Edition
Preface to the Second Edition

Chapter 1
The Origins of Tennis: The Monks’ Racket

Chapter 2
The Tennis Games of the Middle Ages

Chapter 3
The Language of Tennis

Chapter 4
Tennis in the Renaissance Literature

Chapter 5
Tennis in the German Ballhouse

Chapter 6
Lawn Tennis: The Sturdy Bastard

Chapter 7
Lawn Tennis in America

Chapter 8
Continental Colonies: Lawn Tennis in France

Chapter 9
Lawn Tennis under the Kaiser


The first edition awarded the 1999 CHOICE Outstanding Academic Titles award

Reviews of the first edition:

A definitive account of tennis a splayed from the Middle Ages to the present… will sate the curiosity of the most avid tennis enthusiast.
Publishers Weekly

Well Researched… [Gillmeister] keeps a light tone even when vilifying minute details like the physical layout of Henry V’s tennis court.
Library Journal

The Economist

. . . the book is exemplary, and the scholarship particularly of the first five chapters sets a high standard for the history of any sport.
American Studies International

Published by: Equinox Publishing
ISBN-13 (Paperback): 9781781795217
Price (Paperback): £35.00 / $45.00
Publication: 10/02/2017
Pages: 632
Size: 244 x 170mm
Readership: scholars and general readers
Illustration: 16 page colour plate section, 158 black and white figures

More information can be found on the Equinox Publishing website