A street game
Tennis was originally a street game which would have been played using existing walls or in yards.
It was mostly played in towns and many early courts would have been attached to inns. As the game developed, and the design brief became more specific, many new courts were built under royal patronage, particularly in France and the British Isles, or on the estates of private houses. The first private court is reckoned to be at Dijon from 1250, with a court at Dublin Castle dated 1361. There was much gambling associated with the early game.
There is evidence of courts in almost every country in Europe from the 13th Century onwards. Further afield, there is evidence of courts in the USA before the Civil War from the middle of the 17th Century but then not until the late 19th Century; in Australia courts were built from the mid to late 19th Century.
Very few of the early courts survive, being mostly built of wood, with some converted to theatres, some burnt down or others pulled down to make way for new developments.
The game is currently played in Australia, England, France, Scotland and the USA, but there is much interest in other countries such as Holland and Ireland.
The ebbs and flows of popularity of Tennis over the centuries have been much affected by wars, revolution and plague. At present, the game is on an upswing, with many new courts under construction or at the planning stage.