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How Tennis came to America

The Answer: By A Woman.


In 1874, Mary Outerbridge, the sister of Eugenius Outerbridge, namesake of the Outerbridge Crossing, went traveling to Bermuda. Here she came across a sports game she had never seen before called: Tennis. When coming home her luggage included all sorts of Tennis accoutrements. It was necessary for Mary to go through Customs which today is The American Indian Museum at Bowling Green Park. It’s right at the tip of downtown Manhattan. The Custom Agents were a bit suspicious; ‘What was the large net for? What were these wooden bats with a long handle attached to a round frame where a network with tight crossed strings?’

Despite Mary’s Outerbridge’s explanation of how Tennis was played the agents weren’t persuaded. However Eugenenius, Mary’s brother worked his magical connections and off the Outerbridges went home to Staten Island.


The equipment was set up at the Cricket and Baseball Club where months later the first tennis game was played. Mary Outerbridge attended the event and became known as the ‘Mother of Tennis’.


It didn't take long for this new sport to take hold. Tennis clubs sprang up everywhere; the Casino Club in Newport, Rhode Island and Boston's Brookline Country Club. A few years later Eugenenius Outerbridge later founded the U.S. Lawn Tennis Association.


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