Real tennis, sometimes called “the sport of kings” or “royal tennis” – is the original indoor racquet sport, dating from around the 1400’s.
Royal interest in England began with Henry V but it was Henry VIII who made the greatest contribution to the game by building courts at many of his palaces, helping it reach the peak of its popularity. By the reign of James I there were around 14 courts in London alone.
By the 17th century, the game had decreased in popularity in England but continued to thrive all over Europe. The reason for its decline is thought to have been Puritanism.
With the increased popularity of “lawn” tennis, real tennis has struggled to reach its previous levels of popularity but it is still practised around the world by a small group of enthusiasts – also known as “realists.”
Real tennis is one if the oldest ball games still played in the world, and has the longest line of consecutive world champions of any sport in the world.