Thursday 23 June 2011

It's Not Tennis

As Wimbledon is upon us again, it is vital, dear reader, that you should point out to anyone who'll listen that they are not playing tennis. They are playing sphairistike.

Tennis is an old French game named after the command Tenez or Hold that you would shout when you served the ball. It's played in an enclosed court and is nowadays usually referred to as Real Tennis.

The game that they are playing at Wimbledon was invented by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield* in 1873, and he named his new sport Sphairistike, which is Ancient Greek for ball skill (sphere-tech).

The only reason that it isn't called the Wimbledon Sphairistike Championship is that nobody had the faintest idea how to pronounce sphairistike, and so they quickly gave up and started referring to it as Lawn Tennis.

Sphairistike is easy to pronounce, though. It rhymes with sticky.

So go forth, dear reader, and every time somebody mentions the tennis, tut and shake your head.

No, of sphairistike.

*Londoners can see his blue plaque just round the corner from Pimlico Tube Station.

N.B. I've mentioned this in a post last year. But if they're allowed to hold the same championship once a year, then I don't see why I can't write posts on the same subject.

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