History of Women in





Before 1800

Medieval Times- During this time, tennis was called “the game of the palm of the hand or Jeu de paume”. It was quite different from today’s tennis, in which it was played against the walls and roof.


1793- The year that England was thought to have invented or played “tennis” for the first time.



1873- Walter C. Wingfield adapted the techniques and rules of tennis to devise a game to be played on the grass.


1874- Mary Ewing Outerbridge of Staten Island introduced tennis to the United States. She purchased equipment in Bermuda and used it to set up the first tennis court on the island.


1881- Indoor tennis was played inside the 7th Regiment Armory in New York City on November 26th with twelve courts for the use of women.

1884- Women’s singles tennis competitions were added to the Wimbledon.

1887- Ellen Hansell was crowned the first Women’s singles tennis champion at the U.S. Open.

1887- Lottie Dod won the women’s Wimbledon championship five times between 1887 and 1893.

1887- First women’s French Tennis Championship was held.

1888- Women joined the Chicago tennis club in New York City.

1897- The first women’s French Tennis Championship was held.

1899- Ping-pong was invented.


1990- The first nineteen women to compete in the modern Olympic Games in Paris, played in three sports and one of the most popular was tennis.

1990- May Sutton was America’s first women tennis player to be known internationally. At the age of thirteen she won the Pacific Southwest Championship.

1910- For the second consecutive year, Hazel Hotchkiss won the singles, doubles and mixed doubles titles at the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association's championships.


1917- Lucy Diggs Slowe won the singles title at the first American Tennis Association national tournament. She then was the first female African-American national champion in sports.

1920- During the Summer Olympics, France's Suzanne Lenglen abandoned the customary tennis garb for a short, pleated skirt, sleeveless silk blouse, and matching sweater. She was then the first female celebrity athlete.

1923- Helen Mills, at the age of seventeen defeated the defending Molla Bjurstedt Mallory, 6-2, 6-1, at the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association's championship.

1924- American Helen Wills brought home gold in singles and doubles tennis at the Paris Olympic Games.

1926- The International Table Tennis Federation was formed, holding the first world championship with nine nations competing.

1929- Ora Washington, an African-American woman, won her first American Tennis Association's singles title, a title she held for seven years. She held onto that record until Althea Gibson broke it with nine titles.

1931- Lili de Alvarez shocked social propriety by playing at Wimbledon in shorts instead of the long, hampering dress that was the accepted tennis attire on June 24th.

1933- Helen Jacobs was named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for tennis.

1935- Helen Wills Moody was named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for tennis.

1936- Ruth Hughes Aarons was the first american that won the world singles table tennis championship.

1936- Women's tennis champion Helen Wills Moody and Howard Kinsey, volleyed a tennis ball 2,001 times without a miss, in one hour, eighteen minutes. Mr. Kinsey broke off the volley to teach a lesson.

1936- Alice Marble, won the first of twelve U.S. Open championships. Her aggressive serve-and-volley style, which is unusual for a woman was the style that set new standards for tennis.

1937- The U.S. was the first country to win the women's Marcel Corbillon Cup team table tennis championships.

1947- Althea Gibson won the first of ten consecutive American Tennis Association national championships.

1950- Althea Gibson became the first African-American to play in a major United States Lawn Tennis Association event.

1951- Althea Gibson was the first black player ever to compete at Wimbledon.

1953- At the age of sixteen, Maureen "Little Mo" Connolly became the first woman to score a Grand Slam - winning all four major world (US Open, Wimbledon, French & Australian Opens) tennis matches in a single season.

1956- Althea Gibson was the first African American to win a Grand Slam singles title when she won the French championships. The next year, she made more history by winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Nationals, the first African American to win ever.

1957- With her first Wimbledon title and first U.S. Championship, Althea Gibson was the top-ranked female tennis player in the world.

1966- Billie Jean King won her first Wimbledon single title, repeating again in 1967 and 1968.

1970- Australian Margaret Smith Court was the second grand slam tennis winner. In her career she had a record of 62 total Grand Slam titles.

1971- Billie Jean King became the first woman athlete ever to receive more than $100,000 in a single season at any sport.

1971- Althea Gibson was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

1973- U.S. Tennis Association announced that men and women would now receive equal prize money and pay at the U.S. Open for the first time in history.

1973- Billie Jean King won the "battle-of-the-sexes" tennis match against Bobby Riggs in Houston while in front of more than 30,000 people and also a TV audience of more than 50 million. It confirmed women's rights to sports and inspired hundred of thousands of women to demand equal rights, equal pay, and equal treatment. She was then named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for tennis.

1974- Chris Evert was named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for tennis she also earned the honor in 1975, 1977, and 1980. Chris Evert was ranked the number one American for the first of five consecutive years. Over her professional career she was the first woman ever to earn one million in her career.

1975- During an endurance match, Rita Santarpia and Sandy Gross played continuous tennis for thirty hours and thirty minutes.

1979- Tracy Austin, at the age of sixteen won the U.S. Open singles tennis championship, the youngest player to have won the title. She was then named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for tennis.

1979- Billie Jean King won her 20th Wimbledon title.

1983- Martina Navratilova was the third grand slam winner in tennis, under the new regulations.

1984- Billie Jean King made history again. She was the first woman to be head of a professional athletic league.

1988- Tennis reappeared at the Olympic Games for the first time since the 1928 Games, Steffi Graf wins the gold medal at Seoul.

1989- Arantxa Sanchez at the age of seventeen, became the youngest French Open Champion and the first Spanish woman to win a Grand Slam.

1989- Steffi Graf was named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for tennis.

1989- Chris Evert was the first tennis player ever to reach 1,000 wins.

1989- By the end of the decade, the number of women who play tennis had risen from four to eleven million.

1990- Jennifer Capriati at the age of fourteen she was the youngest Grand Slam semifinalist during the French Open.

1990- Jennifer Capriati, was the youngest winner of a match in Wimbledon history.

1990- Martina Navratilova was the first woman in history to win Wimbledon 9 times.

1994- Martina Navratilova retired. She set records for most singles titles-167, most matches’ won-1438 and most Wimbledon titles-nine.

1995- Chris Evret was inducted into the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

1996- Martina Hingis was the youngest champion in Wimbledon history at fifteen years old. She was also named the Associated Press Female Athlete of the Year for tennis.

1998- Lindsay Davenport was the first American-born woman to win the U.S. Open since Chris Evert won the last of her six singles titles in 1982.

1998- Tennis star Venus Williams recorded a 127 mph serve, the fastest ever in women's tennis.

1999- Serena and Venus Williams was the first sisters to win singles titles on the same day.

1999- In a historic tennis match-up, the Williams sisters, Venus and Serena met in the women's final of the Lipton Championship. Venus won the match, after beating Serena two games to one, and winning $265,000. She had won all three meetings between each other. This all-sisters women's final was the first since the Open era began in 1968.

1999- In April, about sixty professional women tennis players signed a petition asking the WTA for equal prize money with the men at all four Grand Slam tournaments.



2000- Martina Navratilova was the newest tennis member of the International Tennis Hall of Fame.

2000- Wimbledon announced the increases in total women’s prize money of 7.9%, compared with 4.8% for the men.

2000- Venus and Serena Williams made tennis history when, for the first time in history, sisters won the Wimbledon doubles title.

2000- The Australian Open offered equal prize money for men and women tennis players.

2000- Venus and Serena Williams received the Sportswomen of the Year award, a team honor, by the Women’s Sports Foundation.

2001- Serena and Venus Williams made it a historic U.S. Open in the first women's final televised prime time from Arthur Ashe Stadium in NY. Venus won her second consecutive US Open title, beating Serena 6-2, 6-4 in the first Grand Slam between sisters in 117 years.

2003- Kim Clijsters won the WTA Championship and the largest purse in women's tennis at $1,000,030.

2004- Venus Williams earned her 30th career win.

2004- Maria Sharapova at the age of seventeen, upset defending champion Serena Williams, and was the first Russian and the third-youngest woman to win a singles title at Wimbledon.

2005- Lindsay Davenport was the first player to earn more than $1 million in 2005.

2005- Maria Sharapova was the first player from Russia to be ranked number one and the fifteenth in the history of World Team Tennis since it began its rankings in 1975.

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