A professional tennis court. The person serving stands behind the baseline, alternately to the …—© Merriam-Webster Inc.

Game played with rackets and a light, elastic ball by two players or pairs of players on a rectangular court divided by a low net. Tennis is played indoors and outdoors, on hard-surface, clay, and grass courts. The object is to hit the ball over the net and into the opponent's half of the court in such a way as to defeat the opponent's attempt to reach and return it. Each player serves for an entire game. Points are scored as 15, 30, 40, and game (the term “love” is used for 0). A tied score (“deuce”) requires continued play until a two-point margin is achieved. The first player to win six games, with a lead of two games, takes the set. A match consists of the best two out of three (or three out of five) sets. Since the early 1970s, tiebreakers have been employed to eliminate marathon sets. Tennis developed in the 1870s in Britain from earlier racket-and-ball games. The first world lawn-tennis championship was held in 1877 at Wimbledon; clay- and hard-court competitions emerged later. Current international team tournaments include the Davis Cup for men and the Federation Cup (since 1963) for women's teams. The major tournaments for individual players constitute the “Grand Slam” of tennis: the national championships of Britain (Wimbledon), the U.S., Australia, and France.

This entry comes from Encyclopædia Britannica Concise.
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