Lawn Tennis-some Lady Champions
The popularity of lawn tennis, from the point of view of both player and spectator, has very greatly increased during the last few years
This is not surprising, for, of all games, lawn tennis is perhaps the most suitable for women. It is generally acknowledged that athletics, provided moderation be exercised, are not only enjoyable, but necessary and most beneficial to the health and mind, and lawn tennis has for many reasons a very strong claim to being one of the most suitable forms of athletics. It is within the reach of most, is played in the open air, does not demand an impossible amount of time, does not unduly overtax the strength, and can be played in any part of the world. Such are some of the reasons for its present popularity.
Lawn tennis is essentially modern, for it is only about forty years since Major Wingfield, of the British Army, is supposed to have invented the game as we now play it. He certainly patented it in 1874. In the year 1875 the All-england Club, then a croquet club, first played lawn tennis on their famous grounds at Wimbledon, and so quickly did the game gain popularity that in 1877 the first championship of England was held, and has been held ever since in the grounds of this club, which then changed its name to the All-england Croquet and Lawn Tennis Club.
Since 1877 thirty-three championship meetings have been held, and although the game has had its fluctuations of popularity, it is now as popular as ever. In 1877 only one court was used for the championship meeting; now there are at least ten.
It was not until the year 1884 that ladies were allowed to play at Wimbledon. A championship for them was then established
The handle of the racket should not be bigger than can be comfortably grasped. There is no advantage to be gained in playing with a large handle and has been held ever since. Some hints may here be found of use by those intending to become tennis players. The first thing for the beginner to do is to choose a suitable racket. There have been important changes in the shape of the lawn tennis racket since the game was first played. In those early days its shape was more like the present racket for tennis proper. Then followed a shape which was very wide at the top of the racket, and very narrow at the base-in fact, almost triangular. Later on, the heads of the rackets were made round or oval, and finally the long, narrow heads were introduced that are generally used at the present time. There has also been introduced of late an extra stringing down the centre of the racket, to help to keep the gut tight and in place. Personally I prefer the single stringing, as it enables one to hit harder.
Care should be taken to choose the racket that is most suitable for the player as regards size of handle, weight, stringing, and tightness of gut. It is always advisable to buy the best make of racket. Therefore, a first-class maker should be sought, and even if expensive, the outlay will be economy in the long run, for a good racket lasts longer and will certainly ensure better results. A player grows accustomed to her own racket, and knows it immediately it is placed in her hand.
The weight, size of handle, and matter of balance having been carefully settled at the start, it soon becomes easy to detect any material difference in a racket It is always advisable to have an extra racket with one when playing in a tournament in case of accident, since to play an important match with a strange racket would be to court disaster.
There are so many manufacturers of high class lawn tennis rackets that it should be quite easy for a player to buy one suitable in every way.
As to weight, I advise a 13 1/2 or 14 ounce racket; it should not be lighter or heavier, and care should be taken that it is evenly balanced. Do not play with too big a handle, unless your fingers are abnormally long, or you will fail to grip it easily and comfortably, and will tire the muscles of your hand and stiffen your wrist. A circumference of about five inches is correct for the handle of your racket.
A suitable dress in which to play tennis.
Nothing should impede quick movements or the free use of arms, shoulders and limbs weather has a disastrous effect on a racket, and it is a good plan, if often compelled to play in the rain, to keep an old racket for that purpose. No racket is worth much after a thorough soaking, or after lengthy play on sodden ground. It must be put into a press immediately after playing in the wet.
As regards dress, the player should wear nothing that impedes quick movements or free use of the arms, shoulders, and limbs. The plainer and simpler the costume, the more suitable. A short white cotton skirt, with full underskirts, and a plain, untrimmed white cotton shirt, with collar, tie, and waistband, is the most satisfactory costume. If the sun is not too hot, it is best not to wear a hat, but if one must be worn, it should be a small one, that will keep firmly on the head and not flap about in the wind or retard the player's movements in any way by coming off at a critical moment. Fleetness of foot is a most important aid to success at lawn tennis; therefore, foot-wear should be as light as possible. I find the ordinary gymnasium shoe more satisfactory than any other, although few first-class players wear them. The thick-soled shoe or boot is more popular, as it is supposed to be less tiring to the foot.
Lady Champions of England (Grass Courts):
1884, Miss M. Watson; 1885, Miss M.watson; 1886, Miss Bingley; 1887, Miss L. Dod; 1888, Miss L. Dod; 1889, Mrs. Hillyard; 1890, Miss Rice; 1891, Miss Dod; 1892, Miss Dod; 1893, Miss Dod; 1894, Mrs. Hillyard; 1895, Miss C. Cooper; 1896. Miss C. Cooper; 1897, Mrs. Hillyard; 1898, Miss C. Cooper; 1899, Mrs. Hillyard; 1900, Mrs. Hillyard; 1901, Mrs. Sterry; 1902, Miss Robb; 1903, Miss D. K. Douglass; 1904, Miss D. K. Douglass; 1905, Miss M. Sutton; 1906, Miss D. K. Douglass; 1907, Miss M. Sutton; 1908, Mrs. Sterry; 1909, Miss Boothby; 1910, Mrs. Lambert Chambers. (Covered Courts): 1890, Miss Jacks; 1891, Miss M. Shackle; 1892, Miss M. Shackle; 1893, Miss M. Shackle; 1894, Miss Austin; 1895, Miss C. Cooper; 1896, Miss Austin; 1897, Miss Austin; 1898, Miss Austin; 1899, Miss Austin; 1900, Miss T. Lowther; 1901, Mrs. Hillyard; 1902, Miss T. Lowther; 1903, Miss T. Lowther; 1904, Miss D. K. Douglass; 1905, Miss H. Lane; 1906, Miss D. K. Douglass; 1907, Miss Eastlake Smith; 1908, Mrs. Lambert Chambers; 1909, Miss Boothby; 1910, Mrs. Lambert Chambers.
To be continued.