History of the Tennis Racket
Tennis developed from a French game called jeu de paume – game of the palm. Early players hit the ball over a net with their bare palms. Players began to wear leather gloves. Some players eventually added webbing between the fingers. This was the precursor to today’s tennis racquet.
Webbed gloves were eventually replaced by wooden paddles and then by small wooden frames strung with animal gut. Those earliest racquets had very small heads with a teardrop shape.
The size of the racquet head got larger, giving players more power and accuracy. By the time lawn tennis was patented in 1874, the heavy, wooden racquet closely resembled those that would be used into the 1970s. A major change occurred when Jimmy Conners began using a racquet with a metal frame during that decade. The metal frame was lighter and by the late 1970s, the size of the racquet head had increased dramatically.
The metal frames of the 1970s gave way to composite frames in the late 1980s. Those rackets gave players the ultimate combination of power and light weight.
In 1977 the International Tennis Federation revised its racquet standards and determined that the maximum size for a tennis racquet would be 291/2 inches long, with the head frame being no larger than 15 1/2 inches by 12 1/2 inches.