101 Things Birmingham Gave The World. No 1. Tennis

Tennis, invented in Birmingham

Ever climbed Murray mount, “come on Tim”, or knocked a sponge ball against a wall while grunting? Then you have Birmingham to thank for the gift of the only sport that doubles the price of a certain fruit for two weeks every year. Yes, Cliff Richards’s favourite game was invented not in the white trousered environs of the Wimbledon croquet club, but up a back street in Edgbaston not a high lob from the old Firebird pub.

The rules of modern lawn tennis were drawn up by Harry Gem and his friend Augurio Perera who developed a game that combined elements of rackets and the Basque ball game pelota. The rest is, for the English at least, a posh and annually disappointing story.


Author: Jon Bounds

14th Most Influential Person in the West Midlands 2008, subsequently not placed. His new book about visiting every seaside pier in England and Wales — Pier Review — has been described as “On the Road meets On the Buses”, it's out now. Jon wrote and directed the first ever piece of drama to be performed on Twitter and founded the famous blog Birmingham: It's Not Shit.