Of the current four Grand Slam tournaments, the Australian and US Open use hard courts, French Open is played on clay, and Wimbledon, the only Grand Slam to have always been played on the same surface, is played on grass. The Australian Open switched from grass to hard courts in 1988 and in its early years the French championship alternated between clay and sand/rubble courts. The US Open is the only major to have been played on three surfaces; it was played on grass from its inception until 1974, clay from 1975 until 1977 and hard courts since it moved from the West Side Tennis Club to the National Tennis Center in 1978.
Hunter/Killer: This 11.7oz beefcake is what the attack-happy Novak Djokovic uses to great effect. It is made for speed with the weight distributed toward the ends so that it aids movement in any direction. The 18×20 string arrangement is unusual, but geared toward flat hitters who want to be able to aim their slams or throw a little english onto a powerful stroke. This is probably the best one you can find if you like to attack the net rather than hanging back at the baseline. The 100 square-inch head is a little on the large side for catching sneaky balls that would otherwise get by you. The racket is extremely stable and balanced when moving, but you’ll definitely catch a few bad vibrations as you use it. [Purchase: $186]
We’ve now covered scoring, the first step to learn as a tennis beginner — let’s move on to understanding the court. A tennis court is 78 feet long by 27 feet wide, and divided in half length-wise by the net. At each end of the court, there are white baselines — here, the serves are taken. These are also the out-of-bounds lines — a ball must not bounce beyond them or it’s out and the player who hit the ball loses a point.
The International Tennis Federation has tested the typical ball speed for various court surfaces, and classifies them as slow, medium, or fast. Generally, a hard concrete surface—with no surfacing system applied—provides a fast speed of play. If that's not your preference or you want a more resilient surface to reduce the impact on your joints, an abundance of acrylic color coatings and cushioning systems are on the market that allow you to adapt the court surface to your style of play.
Historians believe that the game's ancient origin lay in 12th century northern France, where a ball was struck with the palm of the hand. Louis X of France was a keen player of jeu de paume ("game of the palm"), which evolved into real tennis, and became notable as the first person to construct indoor tennis courts in the modern style. Louis was unhappy with playing tennis outdoors and accordingly had indoor, enclosed courts made in Paris "around the end of the 13th century". In due course this design spread across royal palaces all over Europe. In June 1316 at Vincennes, Val-de-Marne and following a particularly exhausting game, Louis drank a large quantity of cooled wine and subsequently died of either pneumonia or pleurisy, although there was also suspicion of poisoning. Because of the contemporary accounts of his death, Louis X is history's first tennis player known by name. Another of the early enthusiasts of the game was King Charles V of France, who had a court set up at the Louvre Palace.