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Tennis in Suburbia

Fred Perry
by Alexandra Willis
Friday 17 February 2012

The development of tennis in this country and its transition and dispersal from royal pastime to a game played by many is a subject delved into by the BBC's Radio Four in the latest edition of their Sport and the British series, presented by Clare Balding.

The programme, Tennis and Golf in suburbia discusses the way that lawn tennis, and with it, The Championships, benefited from growing numbers of a whole new strata of society - the middle class.

Visiting one of the country's oldest clubs in Leamington Spa, Balding discusses how members of the population, boosted by the industrial revolution, moved into suburban areas with more space and more time on their hands, and so turned to tennis, and golf, as popular pastimes. Tennis clubs sprung up like daisies, growing from 250 in 1900 to 3,000 by the 1930s and 5,000 by the 1950s.

One such family was the Perry family, trade unionists from Stockport, whose son went on to become the last men's singles champion at Wimbledon.

Read more about the history of lawn tennis and The Championships 

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