By Mary Bellis
Tennis originated from a 12th century French game called paume (meaning palm); it was a court game where the ball was struck with the hand. Paume evolved into jeu de paume and rackets were used. The game spread and evolved in Europe. In 1873, Major Walter Wingfield invented a game called Sphairistikè (Greek for "playing ball) from which modern outdoor tennis evolved.
Games of racket and ball (including real tennis in Great Britain, royal tennis in Australia, and court tennis in the United States, all of which are the same game and played indoors) originated from a 12th and 13th century French handball game called jeu de paume (game of the palm). In 1873, Major Walter Wingfield invented a game called sphairistikè, from which modern outdoor tennis evolved. - Encyclopedia Britannica
New Zealand Tennis - The Origins of Lawn Tennis
The first ball game to be played with rackets is thought to have been tchigan, a Persian game whose relationship to tennis is rather obscure. A probable ancestor of the modern game was sphairistike, played in Ancient Greece.
Sites tracing the history of tennis from its origins to the most recent Hall of Fame enshrinees, from About's own guide to tennis, Jeff Cooper.
History of Tennis
Tennis orginated in France before the 12th century.
Although the origins of tennis are not clear, many experts believe tennis, then called lawn tennis, was invented in 1873 by Major Walter Clopton Wingfield, a British army officer.
Tennis' Heritage was its Pride and Curse
This ESPN article discusses the changes in tennis equipment over the years and some of the history of the game.